mach·​i·​na·​tion ˌma-kə-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce machination (audio)
: an act of machinating
: a scheming or crafty action or artful design intended to accomplish some usually evil end
backstage machinations … that have dominated the film industryPeter Bogdanovich
Choose the Right Synonym for machination

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 machination in a Sentence

incredibly complicated machinations to assassinate the president that inevitably failed
Recent Examples on the Web Regardless of the various corporate machinations that occur, the weekend’s events illustrate the high-stakes consequences of artificial intelligence research. Paolo Confino, Fortune, 20 Nov. 2023 Sadly, vulnerable Afghans — from young new arrivals to older and established residents who embrace Pakistan as their only home — are becoming casualties of broader geopolitical machinations. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 6 Nov. 2023 With a cast that includes Jon Bernthal, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Niecy Nash-Betts, Vera Farmiga, Connie Nielsen, Audra McDonald and Blair Underwood, the drama seems especially urgent given U.S. political machinations in some states to erase critical race theory. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Aug. 2023 While the machinations of this pro-Biden write-in campaign—or results of New Hampshire's Democratic primary results overall—are unlikely to have much impact on Mr. Biden's chances to be the Democratic nominee, this primary election conundrum has raised questions about the wisdom of his candidacy. Bo Erickson, CBS News, 27 Oct. 2023 Respecting the conjuring power of movies is all the devotion that’s required to fall under the spell cast by Obasi’s stark, roiling tale of spirit-world mysteries and all-too-human machinations, filmed in an evocatively dense monochromatic palette. Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times, 6 Oct. 2023 Payroll machinations aside, the Angels still gave away two good prospects for nothing. Peter Abraham,, 2 Sep. 2023 Here are some of the top books about the evolution of the gaming world and its behind-the-scenes machinations, perfect for lifelong fans or those who are simply curious. Theara Coleman, The Week, 25 Aug. 2023 In other Meta machinations, the Facebook and Instagram company is looking to spruce up its services with AI chatbots. WIRED, 5 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of machination was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near machination

Cite this Entry

“Machination.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

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