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[kuh n-trahyv] /kənˈtraɪv/
verb (used with object), contrived, contriving.
to plan with ingenuity; devise; invent:
The author contrived a clever plot.
to bring about or effect by a plan, scheme, or the like; manage:
He contrived to gain their votes.
to plot (evil, treachery, etc.).
verb (used without object), contrived, contriving.
to form designs; plan.
to plot.
Origin of contrive
1275-1325; Middle English contreven < Middle French contreuv-, tonic stem of controver to devise, invent, Old French: to decide, agree upon < Late Latin contropāre to compare, equivalent to con- con- + *tropāre (> French trouver to find; see trover); development of vowel unclear
Related forms
contrivable, adjective
contriver, noun
precontrive, verb, precontrived, precontriving.
uncontriving, adjective
1. design, concoct. See prepare. 3. conspire, scheme. 5. connive. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for contriving
Historical Examples
  • And this was a special job, of his own contriving, and of considerable novelty.

    Victory Joseph Conrad
  • To Wauna it was a revelation of magnificence in nature beyond her contriving.

    Mizora: A Prophecy Mary E. Bradley
  • contriving to secure his release from the head chief, Powhatan, he returned to Jamestown.

    The Beginners of a Nation Edward Eggleston.
  • Such a contriving and racking of brains as Polly and Ben set up after this!

  • He did not succeed in contriving any plan which seemed to promise success.

  • Then fear that it is all a contriving of the devils makes him put it manfully from his mind.

    William Shakespeare John Masefield
  • Men were at work everywhere, Lilliputian against the bulk of the hull they were contriving.

    The Cup of Fury Rupert Hughes
  • It is plain enough to me that certain people are contriving for his ruin.

    The Symposium Xenophon
  • He has constructed two singularly ingenious instruments of his own contriving.

  • The conditions were all of the experimenters' own contriving.

    The Shadow World Hamlin Garland
British Dictionary definitions for contriving


(transitive) to manage (something or to do something), esp by means of a trick; engineer: he contrived to make them meet
(transitive) to think up or adapt ingeniously or elaborately: he contrived a new mast for the boat
to plot or scheme (treachery, evil, etc)
Derived Forms
contrivable, adjective
contriver, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French controver, from Late Latin contropāre to represent by figures of speech, compare, from Latin com- together + tropus figure of speech, trope
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 contriving



early 14c., from Old French controver (Modern French controuver) "to find out, contrive, imagine," from Late Latin contropare "to compare" (via a figure of speech), from Latin com- "with" (see com-) + tropus "song, musical mode," from Greek tropos "figure of speech" (see trope).

Sense evolution (in French) was from "invent with ingenuity" to "invent falsely." Spelled contreve until unexplained 15c. sound change that also affected briar, friar, choir. Related: Contrived; contriving.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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