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Circa 1600, from French conniver, from Latin connīveō (wink), or directly from Latin, from com- (together) + base akin to nictō (I wink), from Proto-Indo-European *knei-gwh- (to bend).[1] See also English nictate (to wink), from same Latin base. The sense comes from extension of “to wink” into “to wink (at a crime), to be privy”.



connive (third-person singular simple present connives, present participle conniving, simple past and past participle connived)

  1. To cooperate with others secretly in order to commit a crime; to collude.
  2. To plot or scheme.
  3. To pretend to be ignorant of something in order to escape blame; to ignore a fault deliberately.
    • Jeremy Taylor
      to connive at what it does not approve
    • Burke
      In many of these, the directors were heartily concurring; in most of them, they were encouraging, and sometimes commanding; in all they were conniving.
    • Macaulay
      The government thought it expedient, occasionally, to connive at the violation of this rule.
  4. (archaic) To open and close the eyes rapidly; to wink.
    • Spectator
      The artist is to teach them how to nod judiciously, and to connive with either eye.

Related termsEdit



  1. ^ connive” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019.