con·​trive | \ kən-ˈtrīv How to pronounce contrive (audio) \
contrived; contriving

Definition of contrive

transitive verb

1a : devise, plan contrive ways of handling the situation The prisoners contrived a way to escape.
b : to form or create in an artistic or ingenious manner contrived household utensils from stone Native Americans contrived weapons out of stone, wood, and bone.
2 : to bring about by stratagem or with difficulty : manage he contrived to win their support

intransitive verb

: to make schemes

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Other Words from contrive

contriver noun

Examples of contrive in a Sentence

The prisoners contrived a way to escape. He contrived a meeting with the president.
Recent Examples on the Web This time, though, there’s no theme to contrive to fit; just look at the headlines about events and trends of the current day. Washington Post, 10 June 2021 Craving heroes, the filmmakers contrive a celebrities-of-color fantasy that’s woke — and dull. Armond White, National Review, 7 Apr. 2021 That sounds like just the kind of deep strategy µZero and Artuµ would contrive. Dr. Will Roper, Popular Mechanics, 19 Jan. 2021 If any of her work were turned into a screenplay, there would be no need to contrive sets or costumes. Washington Post, 2 Dec. 2020 And one of these is the capacity to contrive a unique and dynamic atmospheric security blanket that keeps the system intact. Colin Thubron, The New York Review of Books, 17 Nov. 2020 Now, parents don't have to contrive a scheme to keep their kids from eating too much candy in one day. Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY, 21 Oct. 2020 Over the years since, DC Comics has suffered conniptions in contriving ways to use characters who are tethered to the middle of the last century. cleveland, 29 May 2020 While this all sounds as contrived as friends forcing each other to dance with their crushes in a school gym, that's also what makes the formula work so well for this show and many others. Whitney Friedlander, CNN, 25 June 2019

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

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First Known Use of contrive

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for contrive

Middle English controven, contreven, from Anglo-French controver, contrever, from Medieval Latin contropare to compare, from Latin com- + Vulgar Latin *tropare to compose, find — more at troubadour

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The first known use of contrive was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Contrive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for contrive



English Language Learners Definition of contrive

: to form or think of (a plan, method, etc.)
: to form or make (something) in a skillful or clever way
: to make (something) happen in a clever way or with difficulty


con·​trive | \ kən-ˈtrīv How to pronounce contrive (audio) \
contrived; contriving

Kids Definition of contrive

1 : plan entry 2 sense 1, plot We must contrive a way to escape.
2 : to form or make in some skillful or clever way He contrived a small pipe out of the piece of wood.
3 : to manage to bring about or do She contrived to get there on time.

More from Merriam-Webster on contrive

Nglish: Translation of contrive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contrive for Arabic Speakers


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