• synonyms


[kuh n-trahyvd]
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  1. obviously planned or forced; artificial; strained: a contrived story.
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Origin of contrived

First recorded in 1505–15; contrive + -ed2
Related formscon·triv·ed·ly [kuh n-trahy-vid-lee] /kənˌtraɪ vɪd li/, adverbun·con·trived, adjectivewell-con·trived, adjective


verb (used with object), con·trived, con·triv·ing.
  1. to plan with ingenuity; devise; invent: The author contrived a clever plot.
  2. to bring about or effect by a plan, scheme, or the like; manage: He contrived to gain their votes.
  3. to plot (evil, treachery, etc.).
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verb (used without object), con·trived, con·triv·ing.
  1. to form designs; plan.
  2. to plot.
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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 formscon·triv·a·ble, adjectivecon·triv·er, nounpre·con·trive, verb, pre·con·trived, pre·con·triv·ing.un·con·triv·ing, adjective


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1. design, concoct. See prepare. 3. conspire, scheme. 5. connive.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

phony, false, forced, affected, elaborate, strained, overdone, labored, fake, artificial, unnatural, unspontaneous

Examples from the Web for contrived

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • More than likely some of them had contrived a way to get a dinner.

  • By this time they had contrived to make the cellar a little more comfortable.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • Garson contrived to present an aspect of comparative indifference.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Mrs. Pendarves also contrived to be on good terms with both.


    Edward J. Dent

  • How they contrived to keep themselves alive is more than I can imagine.

    Tanglewood Tales

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

British Dictionary definitions for contrived


  1. obviously planned, artificial, or lacking in spontaneity; forced; unnatural
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  1. (tr) to manage (something or to do something), esp by means of a trick; engineerhe contrived to make them meet
  2. (tr) to think up or adapt ingeniously or elaboratelyhe contrived a new mast for the boat
  3. to plot or scheme (treachery, evil, etc)
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Derived Formscontrivable, adjectivecontriver, 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

Word Origin and History for contrived



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper