Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Alternative forms[edit]


Formed from conceive by analogy with deceive/deceit, receive/receipt etc.



conceit (countable and uncountable, plural conceits)

  1. (obsolete) Something conceived in the mind; an idea, a thought. [14th–18th c.]
    • (Can we date this quote by Francis Bacon?)
      In laughing, there ever procedeth a conceit of somewhat ridiculous.
    • 1611, King James Version, Proverbs xxvi. 12
      a man wise in his own conceit
    • 1922, H. P. Lovecraft, “The Tomb”, in The Vagrant:
      It was after a night like this that I shocked the community with a queer conceit about the burial of the rich and celebrated Squire Brewster []
  2. The faculty of conceiving ideas; mental faculty; apprehension.
    a man of quick conceit
  3. Quickness of apprehension; active imagination; lively fancy.
  4. (obsolete) Opinion, (neutral) judgment. [14th–18th c.]
  5. (now rare, dialectal) Esteem, favourable opinion. [from 15th c.]
    • 1499, John Skelton, The Bowge of Courte:
      By him that me boughte, than quod Dysdayne, / I wonder sore he is in suche cenceyte.
  6. (countable) A novel or fanciful idea; a whim. [from 16th c.]
    • (Can we date this quote by L'Estrange?)
      On his way to the gibbet, a freak took him in the head to go off with a conceit.
    • (Can we date this quote by Alexander Pope?)
      Some to conceit alone their works confine, / And glittering thoughts struck out at every line.
    • (Can we date this quote by Dryden?)
      Tasso is full of conceits [] which are not only below the dignity of heroic verse but contrary to its nature.
    • 2012, Lauren Elkin, ‎Scott Esposito, The End of Oulipo?: An attempt to exhaust a movement
      The book's main conceit is to make poetry from univocal words (words containing just one vowel) []
  7. (countable, rhetoric, literature) An ingenious expression or metaphorical idea, especially in extended form or used as a literary or rhetorical device. [from 16th c.]
  8. (uncountable) Overly high self-esteem; vain pride; hubris. [from 17th c.]
    • (Can we date this quote by Cotton?)
      Plumed with conceit he calls aloud.
  9. Design; pattern.

Derived terms[edit]



conceit (third-person singular simple present conceits, present participle conceiting, simple past and past participle conceited)

  1. (obsolete) To form an idea; to think.
  2. (obsolete, transitive) To conceive.
    • (Can we date this quote by South?)
      The strong, by conceiting themselves weak, are therebly rendered as inactive [] as if they really were so.
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Ivlivs Cæsar”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene i]:
    • 1646, Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, V.23:
      That owls and ravens are ominous appearers, and presignifying unlucky events, as Christians yet conceit, was also an augurial conception.

Further reading[edit]