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  • Verb




There once was a famous case of baggage handlers who secretly schemed or connived to smuggle illegal green gophers into the luggage of innocent travelers. The conniving baggage handlers at one airport plotted to put the sleeping gophers into marked suitcases. At the receiving end, the other conniving and dishonestly cooperating handlers would look out for the marked luggage pieces and extract the gophers before the pieces of luggage went off to customs to be inspected.

Quiz: When have you connived with someone?

  • When you cooperate with them in an ongoing investigation.
  • When you plot with them to do something against the law.
  • When you agree to work together on an upcoming project.

Memory Hook

Connive Con Men Smuggle Knives Officials connived at the secret conniving of con men smuggling knives because those conniving and corrupt authorities received a percentage of the profit when the conniving con men sold the illegal knives across the border.


  • [U]nder no circumstances, can any true-hearted abolitionist engage in or connive at any compromise involving the slightest concession to any pro-slavery requisition. —The New York Times from 1852
  • One of Warren’s obsessions in the book, reflected in both movies, is the dilemma that arises when moral people connive with the immoral to try to do good. —Los Angeles Times
  • "If [a government] was weak and temperate, it would resort to violence only at the last extremity and would connive at many partial acts of insubordination; then the state would gradually fall into anarchy." —The Atlantic
  • When Kenny comes upon some movie reviews by Roger Ebert, which he considers brilliant, he's moved, at age 18—sofa surfing and just fired from Home Depot—to connive to meet the critic. —USA Today

Word Ingredients

con- thoroughly
niv wink, close the eyes
e used for spelling and pronunciation

When you connive, you “thoroughly wink” or “close the eyes” at something illegal that’s going on.

Word Theater

The Sting Some pretty devious and convincing conniving is going on here!

Word Constellation