Definition of conceive in English:

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Pronunciation: /kənˈsēv/


[with object]
1Become pregnant with (a child): she was conceived when her father was 49
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  • If a couple conceives several embryos in vitro, one without the disease-carrying gene can be chosen and implanted in the mother's womb.
  • It may act as such, by suppressing ovulation, but it also works by making the lining of the womb hostile to the newly conceived embryo.
  • A naturally conceived fetus in a family with a genetic disorder such as thalassemia has less than a 20 percent chance of being disease free and immunity matched.
1.1 [no object] (Of a woman) become pregnant: five months ago Wendy conceived
More example sentences
  • Being on the contraceptive pill does not reduce the chances of becoming pregnant later, and most women do conceive from one month to one year or so after discarding contraceptives, she says.
  • Keep in mind that while women are pregnant, that's approximately 9 months that women cannot conceive and bear another child.
  • It was also noted that a few women conceived after 5 unsuccessful months of treatment.
become pregnant, become impregnated
2Form or devise (a plan or idea) in the mind: the dam project was originally conceived in 1977 (as adjective conceived) a brilliantly conceived and executed robbery
More example sentences
  • MK and AB conceived the idea, devised the protocol, and obtained funding for the study.
  • It was the masons who originally conceived the idea of a tightly-knit religious-intellectual sect, existing within yet apart from mainstream society.
  • They offer two brilliantly conceived plans to restore sound money to our economies and our lives.
think up, think of, dream up, devise, formulate, design, originate, create, develop
informal cook up, hatch
2.1Form a mental representation of; imagine: without society an individual cannot be conceived as having rights [no object]: we could not conceive of such things happening to us
More example sentences
  • One may conceive of individual representations while abstracting from those physical repercussions which accompany them or follow them, but do not constitute them.
  • At its best, his show celebrates the capacity of our imagination to conceive of, then rationalise, the ridiculous.
  • It doesn't take a great stretch of the imagination to conceive of who ‘such people’ are.
imagine, envisage, visualize, picture, think, envision, grasp, appreciate, apprehend
formal ideate
2.2Become affected by (a feeling): he conceived a passion for football
More example sentences
  • Writing in the FT John Lloyd reports that the Guardian has conceived the ambition of becoming the newspaper of the contemporary - that is, liberal - establishment.
  • The landowner instantly conceives a dislike of the dog and demands that she be gotten rid of.
  • Brand himself is a cold fish and a nervous character, who conceives a murderous hatred for his junior officer.


Middle English: from Old French concevoir, from Latin concipere, from com- 'together' + capere 'take'.

  • capable from mid 16th century:

    The first recorded sense of this was ‘able to take in’, physically or mentally. It comes from Latin capere ‘take or hold’ which is found in many other English words including: accept (Late Middle English) from ad- ‘to’ and capere; anticipation (Late Middle English) ‘acting or taking in advance’; capacity (Late Middle English) ‘ability to hold’; caption (Late Middle English) originally an act of capture; captive (Late Middle English); catch (Middle English); chase (Middle English); conceive (Middle English) literally ‘take together’; except (Late Middle English) ‘take out of’; incapacity (early 17th century) inability to hold; intercept (Late Middle English) to take between; perceive (Middle English) to hold entirely; prince; receive (Middle English) ‘take back’; susceptible (early 17th century) literally ‘that can be taken from below’.

Words that rhyme with conceive

achieve, believe, breve, cleave, deceive, eve, greave, grieve, heave, interleave, interweave, khedive, leave, misconceive, naive, Neve, peeve, perceive, reave, receive, reive, relieve, reprieve, retrieve, sheave, sleeve, steeve, Steve, Tananarive, Tel Aviv, thieve, underachieve, upheave, weave, we've, Yves

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: con·ceive

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