[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. concinnous,
  2. concise,
  3. concisely,
  4. conciseness,
  5. concision,
  6. conclavist,
  7. conclination,
  8. conclude,
  9. conclusion,
  10. conclusive

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for conclave

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 Formsconclavist, noun

Word Origin for conclave

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

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