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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.]
    • Francis Bacon
      In laughing, there ever procedeth a conceit of somewhat ridiculous.
    • Bible, Proverbs xxvi. 12
      a man wise in his own conceit
  2. The faculty of conceiving ideas; mental faculty; apprehension.
    a man of quick conceit
    • Sir Philip Sidney
      How often, alas! did her eyes say unto me that they loved! and yet I, not looking for such a matter, had not my conceit open to understand them.
  3. Quickness of apprehension; active imagination; lively fancy.
    • Shakespeare
      His wit's as thick as Tewksbury mustard; there is no more conceit in him than is in a mallet.
  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.]
    • L'Estrange
      On his way to the gibbet, a freak took him in the head to go off with a conceit.
    • Alexander Pope
      Some to conceit alone their works confine, / And glittering thoughts struck out at every line.
    • Dryden
      Tasso is full of conceits [] which are not only below the dignity of heroic verse but contrary to its nature.
  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.]
    • Cotton
      Plumed with conceit he calls aloud.
  9. Design; pattern.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)

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.
    • South
      The strong, by conceiting themselves weak, are therebly rendered as inactive [] as if they really were so.
    • William Shakespeare
      One of two bad ways you must conceit me, / Either a coward or a flatterer.
    • 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]