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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.
    • 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.]
    • 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]