conspiracy

noun

con·​spir·​a·​cy kən-ˈspir-ə-sē How to pronounce conspiracy (audio)
plural conspiracies
1
: the act of conspiring together
They were accused of conspiracy to commit murder.
2
a
: an agreement among conspirators
uncovered a conspiracy against the government
b
: a group of conspirators
a conspiracy made up of disgruntled aristocrats

see also conspiracy theory

Choose the Right Synonym for conspiracy

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

Example Sentences

The CIA uncovered a conspiracy against the government. They were accused of conspiracy to commit murder.
Recent Examples on the Web The indictment charges Allick, Douglas and Senior with one count of conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl and cocaine base and Allick and Senior with additional counts related to the distribution of narcotics. Hartford Courant, 19 Nov. 2022 The jury found Holmes guilty of four of the charges — three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Charmaine Patterson, Peoplemag, 18 Nov. 2022 Brown, 32, was convicted of kidnapping that resulted in death and one count of conspiracy to kidnap a minor victim. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, 17 Nov. 2022 He was convicted of criminal conspiracy to commit murder, among other charges. Swati Gupta, CNN, 11 Nov. 2022 Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, and his co-defendants are the first people arrested in the Jan. 6 attack to stand trial on the charge of seditious conspiracy. CBS News, 4 Nov. 2022 Prosecutors charged Gogic with three counts of violating the federal Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act, and one count of conspiracy. Reuters, NBC News, 1 Nov. 2022 Gogic is charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act and three counts of violating the same act, and faces a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison, according to the DOJ. Orlando Mayorquin, USA TODAY, 1 Nov. 2022 Both Raheja, 66, and Mazzucco, 44, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit a kickback scheme. Adam Ferrise, cleveland, 31 Oct. 2022 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle English conspiracie, from Latin conspirare — see conspire

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of conspiracy was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near conspiracy

Cite this Entry

“Conspiracy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conspiracy. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

conspiracy

noun

con·​spir·​a·​cy kən-ˈspir-ə-sē How to pronounce conspiracy (audio)
plural conspiracies
1
: the act of conspiring together
2
a
: an agreement among conspirators
b
: a group of conspirators

Legal Definition

conspiracy

noun

con·​spir·​a·​cy kən-ˈspir-ə-sē How to pronounce conspiracy (audio)
plural conspiracies
1
: an agreement between two or more people to commit an act prohibited by law or to commit a lawful act by means prohibited by law
also : the crime or tort of participating in a conspiracy compare substantive crime

Note: Some states require an overt act in addition to the agreement to constitute conspiracy.

chain conspiracy
: a conspiracy in which the conspirators act separately and successively (as in distributing narcotics)
civil conspiracy
: a conspiracy that is not prosecuted as a crime but that forms the grounds for a lawsuit
criminal conspiracy
: a conspiracy prosecuted as a crime
2
: a group of conspirators

History and Etymology for conspiracy

Latin conspiratio, from conspirare to conspire see conspire

More from Merriam-Webster on conspiracy

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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