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[kon-kleyv, kong-] /ˈkɒn kleɪv, ˈkɒŋ-/
a private or secret meeting.
an assembly or gathering, especially one that has special authority, power, or influence:
a conclave of political leaders.
the assembly or meeting of the cardinals for the election of a pope.
the body of cardinals; the College of Cardinals.
the place in which the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church meet in private for the election of a pope.
Origin of conclave
1350-1400; Middle English < Medieval Latin, Latin conclāve room, enclosed space, representing (camera) cum clāve (room) with key. See con-, clef Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for conclave
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • First the conclave, the three scrutators, and himself as one of them.

    The Eternal City Hall Caine
  • While seated in conclave outside the camp, we suddenly were aware of a great hubbub.

    Anabasis Xenophon
  • But while the soldiers were still seated in conclave, Coeratadas, of Thebes, arrived.

    Anabasis Xenophon
  • conclave of the tribes could put him on the throne tomorrow morning.

    The Best Made Plans Everett B. Cole
  • There'd be a deadlock when a conclave started checking their claims.

    The Best Made Plans Everett B. Cole
British Dictionary definitions for conclave


/ˈkɒnkleɪv; ˈkɒŋ-/
a confidential or secret meeting
(RC Church)
  1. the closed apartments where the college of cardinals elects a new pope
  2. a meeting of the college of cardinals for this purpose
Derived Forms
conclavist, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Medieval Latin conclāve, from Latin: cage, place that may be locked, from clāvis key
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for conclave

late 14c., "a place where cardinals meet to elect a pope," from Italian conclave, from Latin conclave "a room, chamber suite," probably originally "a room which may be locked," from com- "together" (see com-) + clavis "a key" (see slot (n.2)). Extended sense of "private assembly" is first recorded 1560s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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