con·​trive | \ kən-ˈtrīv How to pronounce contrive (audio) \
contrived; contriving

Definition of contrive

transitive verb

1a : devise, plan contrive ways of handling the situation The prisoners contrived a way to escape.
b : to form or create in an artistic or ingenious manner contrived household utensils from stone Native Americans contrived weapons out of stone, wood, and bone.
2 : to bring about by stratagem or with difficulty : manage he contrived to win their support

intransitive verb

: to make schemes

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Other Words from contrive

contriver noun

Examples of contrive in a Sentence

The prisoners contrived a way to escape. He contrived a meeting with the president.
Recent Examples on the Web On Friday, hordes of business people will contrive excuses to miss work or sneak out early. Adam Schupak, azcentral, "Wyndham Clark one off TPC Scottsdale course record to lead Phoenix Open on day one," 30 Jan. 2020 The dilemma is cumbersome enough to come across as a contrived-for-TV thought experiment more than a smart inquiry into real ideas about race and ethics. Judy Berman, Time, "True Crime Drama Truth Be Told Isn't a Disaster—But It's Everything That's Wrong With Apple TV+," 3 Dec. 2019 That scene was contrived for the movie, but in reality, Garland did become an LGBTQ icon. Carly Mallenbaum, USA TODAY, "What the new Judy Garland biopic and 'Sid & Judy' documentary tell us about her life," 17 Oct. 2019 As with Modi’s demonetization drive, the apparent suddenness of the decision to remove Article 370 and carve Kashmir up into two administrative units is contrived. Siddhartha Deb, The New Republic, "India’s Looming Ethno-Nationalist Catastrophe," 7 Aug. 2019 The heavy amount of retconning around the original Star Trek series feels contrived at times, and certain romantic pairings the show tries desperately to sell have all the chemistry of a pile of wet sand. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "TV Technica 2019: These were our favorite shows and binges this year," 28 Dec. 2019 Both of these suggestions, however, seemed in the end rather too precious and contrived. Antony Dapiran, Quartz, "What do we call Hong Kong’s nameless “2019 protests” in 2020?," 20 Dec. 2019 That football link, Mann said, became authentic and not contrived and proved to be politically advantageous for Edwards. al, "What Democratic wins in Louisiana and Kentucky could mean for Doug Jones in Alabama," 22 Nov. 2019 Attackers' reasons tended to be contrived -- deeming perfectly legal actions by a black person to be out-of-line, according to Monroe Work Today. Leah Asmelash, CNN, "'Lynching' isn't a euphemism for unwanted criticism. It's a real act of violence," 23 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contrive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of contrive

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for contrive

Middle English controven, contreven, from Anglo-French controver, contrever, from Medieval Latin contropare to compare, from Latin com- + Vulgar Latin *tropare to compose, find — more at troubadour

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Time Traveler for contrive

Time Traveler

The first known use of contrive was in the 14th century

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Statistics for contrive

Last Updated

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Contrive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for contrive


How to pronounce contrive (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of contrive

: to form or think of (a plan, method, etc.)
: to form or make (something) in a skillful or clever way
: to make (something) happen in a clever way or with difficulty


con·​trive | \ kən-ˈtrīv How to pronounce contrive (audio) \
contrived; contriving

Kids Definition of contrive

1 : plan entry 2 sense 1, plot We must contrive a way to escape.
2 : to form or make in some skillful or clever way He contrived a small pipe out of the piece of wood.
3 : to manage to bring about or do She contrived to get there on time.

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