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From French conniver (to ignore and thus become complicit in wrongdoing), or directly from its etymon Latin connīvēre, cōnīvēre, third-person plural perfect active indicative of connīveō, cōnīveō (to close or screw up the eyes, blink, wink; to overlook, turn a blind eye, connive) (perhaps alluding to two persons involved in a scheme together winking to each other),[1] from con- (prefix indicating a being or bringing together of several objects) + *nīvēre (related to nictō (to blink, wink), from Proto-Indo-European *kneygʷʰ- (to bend, droop)).[2]



connive (third-person singular simple present connives, present participle conniving, simple past and past participle connived)

  1. (intransitive) To secretly cooperate with other people in order to commit a crime or other wrongdoing; to collude, to conspire. [from mid 17th c.]
    • 1844, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “A Drama of Exile”, in Poems. [], volume I, London: Edward Moxon, [], OCLC 270767504, page 7:
      I might say, / That who despairs, acts; that who acts, connives / With God's relations set in time and space; [...]
    • 1876 June 24, “The Law of Libel”, in The Japan Mail. A Fortnightly Summary of Intelligence from Japan, for Transmission to Europe and the United States, via Suez and San Francisco, volume VII, number 13, Yokohama: [H. Collins], OCLC 42521218, page 358:
      This very Law of Libel provides that "if any one connives with a guilty man and alleges him to be innocent, he renders himself liable to punishment."
    • 1985 March 22, Philip Ralph Burdon, “Local Government Amendment Bill (No. 2)”, in Parliamentary Debates (Hansard): First Session, Forty-first Parliament (House of Representatives), volume 462, Wellington: V. R. Ward, government printer, OCLC 191255532, page 3947:
      The Christchurch City Council has connived with the Government to take over all the surrounding local bodies, and it is not without comment that none of the Labour members from Christchurch has spoken on the Bill.
    • 2001, Laurence Leamer, “Aristocratic Instincts”, in The Kennedy Men: 1901–1963: The Laws of the Father, 1st Perennial edition, New York, N.Y.: Perennial, HarperCollins Publishers, published 2002, →ISBN, book 2, page 33:
      While some of Joe [Kennedy]'s classmates had connived to get into battle, joining the French Foreign Legion or the Canadian forces, Joe connived to get out.
  2. (intransitive, botany, rare) Of parts of a plant: to be converging or in close contact; to be connivent.
    • 1875, John Smith, “118.—Nephrolepis, Schott. (1834).: Hook Sp. Fil.”, in Historia Filicum; an Exposition on the Nature, Number, and Organography of Ferns, [], London: Macmillan & Co., OCLC 938394481, part 2 (General Arrangement and Characteristics of Tribes and Genera, []), page 227:
      This species [...] differs from other species of this genus in the upper pinnæ being contracted, which are sinuously lobed, each lacinæ and lobe bearing a sorus, furnished with a nearly orbicular indusium, the free exterior margin of which connives with the margin of the lobe, [...]
  3. (intransitive, obsolete) Often followed by at: to pretend to be ignorant of something in order to escape blame; to ignore or overlook a fault deliberately.
    Synonyms: (rare) dissimulate, look the other way, shut one's eyes, turn a blind eye, wink
    • 1659, Jeremy Taylor, Ductor Dubitantium, 2nd edition, London: Printed by Roger Norton, for Richard Royston, [], published 1671, OCLC 435782155, Question V. Whether is to be Obeyed, the Prince or the Bishop, if They Happen to Command Contrary Things?, page 571:
      For ſince the affairs of the world have in them the varieties and perplexities beſides, it happens that in ſome caſes men know not how to govern by the ſtricteſt meaſures of religion, becauſe all men will not do their duty upon that account; and therefore laws are not made [...] with exact and pureſt meaſures, but in compliance and by neceſſity, not always as well as they ſhould, but as well as they may: and therefore the Civil power is forc'd ſometimes to connive at what it does not approve.
    • 1695, Richard Baxter, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine, chapter 2, verse 14”, in A Paraphrase on the New Testament, with Notes, Doctrinal and Practical. [], 2nd corrected edition, London: Printed for T. Parkhurst, []; S. Spring, []; J. Taylor, [], and J. Wyat, [], OCLC 1011883210, column 1:
      Though all this Good be found in thee, I an offended that thou ſo conniveſt at the Hereſie of the falſe Teachers, as to permit ſome of them in your Communion, [...]
    • 1711, Thomas Rawbone, “The Efficient Cause of Our Sanctification [marginal note]”, in The Path to Liberty: Or, The Method of Man’s Redemption by Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In Two Parts. [], London: Printed for W[illiam] Taylor, [], OCLC 1102985002, part II, page 115:
      Nor can we reaſonably think, that Chriſt ſo waſhed us from our Sins in his own Blood, that we might wallow more ſecurely in them; or that he freeth us from the Guilt and Puniſhment, and conniveth at the Filth and Practice of them.
    • 1783 December 1, Edmund Burke, “Debate in the Commons on the Motion for Going into a Committee on Mr. [Charles James] Fox’s India Bill”, in [William Cobbett], editor, The Parliamentary History of England, from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803. [], volume XXIII, London: Printed by T[homas] C[urson] Hansard, [] for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, & Brown; [et al.], published 1814, OCLC 20121995, column 1375:
      That the evils in India have solely arisen from the court of proprietors is grossly false. In many of these, the directors were heartily concurring; in most of them, they were encouraging, and sometimes commanding; in all they were conniving.
    • 1849, Thomas Babington Macaulay, chapter I, in The History of England from the Accession of James II, volume I, London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, OCLC 1069526323, page 36:
      A nation of hardy archers and spearmen might, with small risk to its liberties, connive at some illegal acts on the part of a prince whose general administration was good, and whose throne was not defended by a single company of regular soldiers.
  4. (intransitive, obsolete) To open and close the eyes rapidly; to wink.


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  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2021), “connive”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  2. ^ connive, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1891; “connive, v.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.




  1. second-person singular present active imperative of connīveō