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From Middle English conceiven, borrowed from Old French concevoir, conceveir, from Latin concipiō, concipere (to take), from con- (together) + capiō (to take). Compare deceive, perceive, receive.


  • IPA(key): /kənˈsiːv/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːv


conceive (third-person singular simple present conceives, present participle conceiving, simple past and past participle conceived)

  1. (transitive) To develop an idea; to form in the mind; to plan; to devise; to originate.
    • 1606, Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare, II-4
      We shall, / As I conceive the journey, be at the Mount / Before you, Lepidus.
    • Gibbon
      It was among the ruins of the Capitol that I first conceived the idea of a work which has amused and exercised near twenty years of my life.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 3, in The Celebrity:
      Now all this was very fine, but not at all in keeping with the Celebrity's character as I had come to conceive it. The idea that adulation ever cloyed on him was ludicrous in itself. In fact I thought the whole story fishy, and came very near to saying so.
  2. (transitive) To understand (someone).
    • Nathaniel Hawthorne
      I conceive you.
    • Jonathan Swift
      You will hardly conceive him to have been bred in the same climate.
  3. (intransitive or transitive) To become pregnant.
    Assisted procreation can help those trying to conceive.
    • Bible, Luke i. 36
      She hath also conceived a son in her old age.

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