1 : to pretend ignorance of or fail to take action against something one ought to oppose
2 a : to be indulgent or in secret sympathy : wink
b : to cooperate secretly or have a secret understanding
Did You Know?
Connive may not seem like a troublesome term, but it was to Wilson Follett, a usage critic who lamented that the word "was undone during the Second World War, when restless spirits felt the need of a new synonym for plotting, bribing, spying, conspiring, engineering a coup, preparing a secret attack." Follett thought connive should only mean "to wink at" or "to pretend ignorance." Those senses are closer to the Latin ancestor of the word: connive comes from the Latin connivēre, which means "to close the eyes" and which is descended from -nivēre, a form akin to the Latin verb nictare, meaning "to wink." But many English speakers disagreed, and the "conspire" sense is now the word's most widely used meaning.
"Arnold worked out a plan not only to turn over the fort and its men to the British but at the same time to connive at the British capture of George Washington." — Gordon S. Wood, The Weekly Standard, 1 June 2018
"Officers who connive and cheat to pad their paychecks aren't just stealing money. They're also eroding the crucial bond between the public and those sworn to protect and serve them." — The Boston Globe, 16 July 2018
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