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From Middle English contreve (to invent), from Old French controver (Modern French controuver), from trover (to find) (French trouver).


  • IPA(key): /kənˈtɹaɪv/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪv


contrive (third-person singular simple present contrives, present participle contriving, simple past and past participle contrived)

  1. To invent by an exercise of ingenuity; to devise
    Synonyms: plan, scheme, plot, hatch
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 10, in The China Governess[1]:
      With a little manœuvring they contrived to meet on the doorstep which was […] in a boiling stream of passers-by, hurrying business people speeding past in a flurry of fumes and dust in the bright haze.
    • 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter:
      Neither do thou imagine that I shall contrive aught against his life.
    • 1813 January 27, [Jane Austen], Pride and Prejudice: [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to III), London: [] [George Sidney] for T[homas] Egerton, [], →OCLC:
      [] I cannot bear the idea of two young women traveling post by themselves. It is highly improper. You must contrive to send somebody.
  2. To invent, to make devices; to form designs especially by improvisation.
  3. To project, cast, or set forth, as in a projection of light.
  4. (obsolete, transitive) To spend (time, or a period).


Derived terms[edit]