con·​triv·​ance kən-ˈtrī-vən(t)s How to pronounce contrivance (audio)
: a thing contrived
especially : a mechanical device
modern contrivances to cook food faster
: an artificial arrangement or development
Mistaken identity is used as a plot contrivance in the story.
: the act or faculty of contriving : the state of being contrived

Examples of contrivance in a Sentence

The story is filled with plot contrivances that do not fit the ending. He told the story honestly and without contrivance. a contrivance to get out of doing the work He convinced her to go without using contrivance.
Recent Examples on the Web Lee: Agreed—and there are even more of those contrivances popping up around how the One Power seems to function, especially around stilling and gentling and shielding. Andrew Cunningham & Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, 29 Sep. 2023 The contrivance of certain parts of the narrative — Laura’s hacking techniques, the introduction of Fred Durst as Fred Durst — derail the story, turning the latter half of the film into a hodge-podge of random encounters. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 Mar. 2024 With so much going on — the mysterious cowboy comes back, and there’s a detour to a heartfelt moment with Pose’s Indya Moore — the film starts to rely on cliché and contrivance to wrap up loose ends. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 26 Jan. 2024 Enlarge / Adam Jensen of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, taking in the news that no last-minute contrivance is going to save his series from what seemed like inevitable doom. Kevin Purdy, Ars Technica, 29 Jan. 2024 Flat-footed contrivances, compounded by hackneyed humor and stereotypical targets, contribute to the sense that the play is always a beat behind. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 28 Jan. 2024 Glück often slips into poetic spacing when integrating Ed’s prose, reminding us of the contrivance of appropriation. Daniel Felsenthal, The New Yorker, 19 Jan. 2024 In this case, the sitcom Shakespeare is built around two contrivances. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 21 Dec. 2023 Monster’s contrivances and convolutions didn’t all work for me, but the scenes the boys share in the final third are magical. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 6 Dec. 2023

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

Word History


contrive + -ance

First Known Use

circa 1628, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of contrivance was circa 1628

Dictionary Entries Near contrivance

Cite this Entry

“Contrivance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


con·​triv·​ance kən-ˈtrī-vən(t)s How to pronounce contrivance (audio)
: something (as a scheme or mechanical device) produced with skill and cleverness

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