1 of 2


: the practice of engaging in secret schemes
: a secret scheme : machination
: a clandestine love affair


2 of 2


in·​trigue in-ˈtrēg How to pronounce intrigue (audio)
intrigued; intriguing

transitive verb

: to arouse the interest, desire, or curiosity of
intrigued by the tale
: to get, make, or accomplish by secret scheming
intrigued myself into the club
obsolete : entangle

intransitive verb

: to carry on an intrigue (see intrigue entry 1)
especially : plot, scheme
intriguer noun
Choose the Right Synonym for intrigue

plot, intrigue, machination, conspiracy, cabal mean a plan secretly devised to accomplish an evil or treacherous end.

plot implies careful foresight in planning a complex scheme.

an assassination plot

intrigue suggests secret underhanded maneuvering in an atmosphere of duplicity.

backstairs intrigue

machination implies a contriving of annoyances, injuries, or evils by indirect means.

the machinations of a party boss

conspiracy implies a secret agreement among several people usually involving treason or great treachery.

a conspiracy to fix prices

cabal typically applies to political intrigue involving persons of some eminence.

a cabal among powerful senators

Examples of intrigue in a Sentence

Noun Rolston's work channels the vampish intrigue of vintage Hollywood with a sense of irony and wit that makes the work truly modern. Stephanie Sung, Picture, September/October 2008
In this, as in any other enterprise where there is the promise of money, intrigues and lies and hoodwinking and bullying abound. Alice Munro, "Hard-Luck Stories," in In the Stacks2002
The story began to take on a warm, attractive glow as a Highland romantic epic of heroism and villainy, of intrigue and bravery, complete with comely maidens such as Flora MacDonald and handsome heroes such as Bonnie Prince Charlie himself. Arthur Herman, How the Scots Invented the Modern World, 2001
a novel of intrigue and romance an administration characterized by intrigue and corruption Verb One day during math study period, after I'd finished my regular assignment, I took out a fresh sheet of paper and tried to solve a problem that had intrigued me: whether the first player in a game of ticktacktoe can always win, given the right strategy. Martin Gardner, Scientific American, August 1998
Bundy was also a man whose thinking in foreign affairs was extremely conventional … but who in the area of domestic policy was curiously more open-minded and unconventional, so that throughout the Kennedy years, friends would be intrigued by the difference in Bundy. David Halberstam, Harper's, July 1969
evidence that the leading manufacturers had intrigued to keep prices artificially high the mystery story intrigued me so that I read it in one sitting See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Add to that the fascination, curiosity and intrigue surrounding such unidentified anomalous phenomena that have swelled in recent weeks since Congress staged hearings in July on the subject. David Noyce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 6 Sep. 2023 Local influence for Buffs There was another degree of intrigue when Sanders hired a few coaches with local ties. Michael Casagrande |, al, 3 Sep. 2023 The transformation of minor sparks into massive conflagrations is a long-standing feature of coverage that is increasingly dependent on the horse race’s ups and downs and incentivized to highlight—and sometimes overstate—whatever drama and intrigue can be mined. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 1 Sep. 2023 Yevgeny Prigozhin’s rise owed much to videos that spread rapidly through Russian social media and nationalist circles: charting his feud with the Kremlin’s military leaders, then showcasing his armed revolt against them — all carried by a gust of intrigue and anger. Chantal Da Silva, NBC News, 24 Aug. 2023 Pac-12 football power rankings:Plenty of intrigue before conference expansion takes effect 2. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, 23 Aug. 2023 The trash talk in the center of the octagon served as fuel for heated exchanges between the two men and added another level of intrigue to an already fascinating matchup between a dominant champion and rising star. Cam Kerry,, 19 Aug. 2023 Josh Johnson has created legitimate intrigue in the battle to back up Lamar Jackson. Childs Walker, Baltimore Sun, 27 Aug. 2023 Super-popular Virgin River returns for more drama, intrigue, and soap-y dialogue. Condé Nast, Glamour, 23 Aug. 2023
This now has Jack’s attention, who is also immediately intrigued. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, 8 Sep. 2023 Hare brings the era into brilliant focus and intrigues us from Page 1 with a woman falling from a third-story window. Carol Memmott, Washington Post, 8 Sep. 2023 When semaglutide came on the market, he was intrigued. Linda Carroll, NBC News, 7 Sep. 2023 Goldwasser, a Turing Award-winning computer scientist, was intrigued. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 4 Sep. 2023 Looking like Mike’s mini-me, Lucas (who surprised his parents when he was born at home!) checked out the competition from a prime perch on his dad’s shoulders and seemed intrigued by the action. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 30 Aug. 2023 Adventurers with deep pockets and a desire to explore the outdoors—as well as a fearlessness to venture into the unknown on battery power alone—will be especially intrigued by the EarthCruiser conversion. Eric Stafford, Car and Driver, 24 Aug. 2023 Biegel's method isn't new, but her Instagram video demonstrating her baked rice process received over 57,000 likes, indicating many were intrigued by it. Sharon Greenthal, Better Homes & Gardens, 22 Aug. 2023 Coanda curlers Since Dyson is renowned for its Coanda-effect curlers (which use airflow to wisp hair around the barrel as the airflow dries and sets hair), I was most intrigued by whether Shark's iteration could stand up against it. Jacqueline Saguin, Good Housekeeping, 23 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'intrigue.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun and Verb

French intricate affair, from Italian intrigo, from intrigare to entangle, from Latin intricare — see intricate

First Known Use


1609, in the meaning defined at sense 1b


1612, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of intrigue was in 1609

Dictionary Entries Near intrigue

Cite this Entry

“Intrigue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
in·​trigue in-ˈtrēg How to pronounce intrigue (audio)
intrigued; intriguing
: to get or accomplish by secret plotting
intrigued their way into the party
: to arouse the interest or curiosity of
intrigued by the tale
intriguer noun


2 of 2 noun
in·​trigue ˈin-ˌtrēg How to pronounce intrigue (audio)
: a secret and complicated scheme : plot
: a secret love affair

More from Merriam-Webster on intrigue

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