Definition of conceit in English:



  • 1mass noun Excessive pride in oneself.

    ‘he was puffed up with conceit’
    • ‘Such successes sometimes induce a spirit of conceit and vanity… people not infrequently become intoxicated by this kind of success…’
    • ‘He looked at the miracle of his creation of the Khalsa and attributed it to the Khalsa, without pride or conceit.’
    • ‘Too little humility - what we'd call arrogance or conceit - is easily seen as a spiritual impediment, but the opposite is also true.’
    • ‘‘You are an unlovely mixture of conceit and arrogance,’ one South African MP told another in 1969.’
    • ‘Although undoubtedly he made many enemies through a combination of conceit, arrogance and a quick temper, Bankes was an important early figure in Nubian and Near Eastern archaeology, and the nascent study of Egyptology.’
    • ‘This is a first feature from documentarist Tareque Masud, autobiographical, but refreshingly without egotism or conceit.’
    • ‘Or perhaps I am merely guilty of arrogant conceit.’
    • ‘Smugness, conceit, an arrogance which has the appearance of humility… here I can no longer reserve my hatred for these impotent writers.’
    • ‘When these feelings are free from national arrogance and conceit and imperial ambitions, there is nothing wrong or objectionable about them.’
    • ‘Clark was a first-class planner and organizer of the forces under his command, but his defining characteristics were conceit and vanity.’
    • ‘She is being reproached for conceit and arrogance, promoting expensive goods and products, which people can't afford to buy, targeting a wealthy audience.’
    • ‘Indeed, conceit, arrogance, and egotism are the essentials of patriotism.’
    • ‘The former attitude mollifies arrogance and conceit while the latter prevents excessive despondency, de-motivation and self-pity.’
    • ‘The secret to marital bliss eludes the Western civilization, although arrogance and conceit keep it from admitting fundamental flaws and looking elsewhere for solutions.’
    • ‘Regrets… he has a few, but the trademark arrogance and conceit that inevitably led to clashes is still there too.’
    • ‘By 1879, his arrogance and conceit having ruined a lucrative relationship with his wealthy patron, Frederick Leyland, Whistler's fortunes were at an all-time low.’
    • ‘Or is Dennett, full of hubris and conceit, the new god?’
    • ‘The extent to which keeping silence could hit their vanity and conceit could not have been matched by answering their objection.’
    • ‘It is clear from his arrogance and boundless conceit that he has never faced a serious opposition from the working class.’
    • ‘In what seemed to be Zachary Johnson's most vulnerable moment, he still had that aura of conceit or self confidence.’
    vanity, narcissism, conceitedness, self-love, self-admiration, self-adulation, self-regard, egotism, egoism, egocentricity, egomania
    View synonyms
  • 2An ingenious or fanciful comparison or metaphor.

    ‘the idea of the wind's singing is a prime romantic conceit’
    • ‘The collage elements intricately play off the metaphoric conceits or evocative turns of phrase of the elaborately lettered texts.’
    • ‘The extravagant conceits of ‘The Weeper’, addressed to Mary Magdalen, were much ridiculed in subsequent periods.’
    • ‘Like Pale Fire, Lolita begins with an immoderate conceit that allows its author and reader to explore the extravagant, pleasurable, and disturbing fringes of the language.’
    • ‘To do so, she explores the idea of metaphoricity, transforming conceits into self-reflexive, self-questioning, and ultimately self-effacing representation.’
    • ‘Those are very difficult paths to walk, to be up front about taking that stuff seriously, and not just using it as a trope or a conceit.’
    • ‘The image of Coe as an egg-laying bird is a gratuitous conceit which can hardly be said to represent the man; it uses him as the occasion for the image of the bird with his minute eggs.’
    • ‘It was the most blasphemous, the most rageful, the funniest, the most American of all conceits for a novel.’
    • ‘Vividly described are some pictures centrally important for Renaissance conceits such as the proximity of pleasure and the pox.’
    • ‘His metaphor crosses sight and sound and locates an Australian event within the larger regional theatre, a remarkable conceit.’
    • ‘In addition to its scholarly role, translation acted as a method of training for hopeful poets, and as a mine of conceits for the more experienced writer.’
    • ‘He is as adept in the conceits of metaphysical poetry as he is in the tones and tunes of seventeenth-century verse; the strings upon which he strums are held taut by centuries.’
    • ‘The work of David Freedberg and Cell suggests that the animation implied here is something more than a metaphoric conceit.’
    • ‘She falls into wordy explication and overly signalled conceits.’
    • ‘This poem takes the conceit of a shared video library membership card as emblematic of relationship cohesion and breakdown in a gesture that is almost joking.’
    • ‘Smith transforms Petrarch's conceit into an expansive metaphor for the Elegiac Sonnets and the way their poet mimics the nightingale's mournful song throughout.’
    • ‘The really metaphysical poem-i.e. something of use Here, of use Now as soul-making and soul-moving-concerns neither objects nor conceits.’
    • ‘The central metaphor, or conceit, or daring insight of Nicholas Ostler's study is that languages deserve to be treated as subjects, agents, in their own right.’
    • ‘Sep did not, however, enact as noticeable a development as Donne, whose early ‘Songs and Sonnets’ are amorous works heavily using metaphysical conceit.’
    • ‘In the West we know her as a poet of witty conceits and memorable images.’
    • ‘In this metaphysical conceit Thoreau reads India as a timeless place, defined by its sacred books.’
    image, imagery, figurative expression, metaphor, simile, trope, figure of speech
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 An artistic effect or device.
      ‘the director's brilliant conceit was to film this tale in black and white’
      • ‘Above all, one feels that this is not a film about life, but a film about life filtered through certain cultural references and conceits.’
      • ‘It was also about a Hellenistic conceit revisited by artists, critics, theorists, and poets during the middle decades of the cinquecento.’
      • ‘Whereas Mangan's work is an echo of some pretty familiar sculptural conceits, Painting Machine seems to come from a place that's a little more contemporary.’
      • ‘And all the while, as you're occupied with these little conceits, the film's geologic strata are shifting into place.’
      • ‘Thus we are offered arguments resting on the notion that language simply is a material substance, as Smithson liked to say, or on the idea that time is a crystalline deposit, as another of the artist's conceits has it.’
      • ‘The film was faithful to the series we grew up with but worked well with the playful conceit that the film was itself about a remake of the tv show.’
      • ‘Designing architecture with the conceit of engendering community as a predominant concern is refreshing in its conceptual distance from profit motive.’
      • ‘Of the female architects I've known, none in my experience exhibit the same conceits as the male architects.’
      • ‘That's the conceit of filmmaker Jeffrey Blitz, who set out with digital video camera in hand to document the 1999 U.S. National Spelling Bee championship.’
      • ‘Until I met him, I assumed that this nautical way of walking was extinct, or a conceit of literature.’
      • ‘No, that's an art-historical conceit - a narrative device.’
      • ‘Guarino has plenty of other ideas just as bad, so many, in fact, that the singers are too occupied with directorial conceits to perform the operas that Mascagni and Leoncavallo actually wrote.’
      • ‘This device is the least successful of the show's many conceits, but even then, the talented cast and the director's assured grip keep us enthralled.’
      • ‘As a result, artists are constructing elaborate conceits to make what they produce fit into the category of a print.’
      • ‘Shadow of the Vampire is a fictionalization of a true event, taking off from a brilliant conceit, that the director of a vampire film would hire a real vampire to play the leading role.’
      • ‘It's a brilliant conceit, and for the most part works wonderfully.’
      • ‘The sense that the models are crushed or dehumanized by their work and the photographer's art is the conceit of some of the best photographs.’
      • ‘The placement of the monitors in relation to the doors as well as a slit cut in a wall through which one can see another video projection, cues you into the sculptural conceits within the installation.’
      • ‘It's a brilliant conceit, using its very unreality to replicate with chilling precision the fear and vulnerability of a situation in which none of us ever want to find ourselves.’
      • ‘Another fact that could almost be a conceit in his own fiction is that Self's name is ‘semantically camouflaged’ as far as the internet is concerned.’
    2. 2.2 A fanciful notion.
      ‘he is alarmed by the widespread conceit that he spent most of the 1980s drunk’
      • ‘Some conceits concerning Scottish education are exactly that, but there has been a long-standing tradition of higher rates of participation at university which dates back to medieval times.’
      • ‘No writer could pen a single word but for the rich humus of public domain effort with which we garden our notions and conceits.’
      • ‘And yet, there is a suggestive promise that the conceit, if rightly understood, offers something more, perhaps something less bleak.’
      • ‘In the end the very idea of ‘The Future’ may turn out to be a 20th century conceit, the reason the globe churned itself up fighting one rancid conception of Utopia after the other.’
      • ‘Indeed, the boy known for ‘always thinking ahead’ could never utter the final sentence in the passage-unless he willfully yielded to the seductions of his father's self-indulgent conceits.’
      • ‘The search for knowledge and in particular self-knowledge that started in my journey with Oedipus, is not only illusory, it is also a conceit, perhaps also a male conceit.’
      • ‘Hamer pushes this conceit further, but not that much further, and imagines the Swedes persuading their neighbours Norway to participate in a study of single men's kitchen lives, on account of their statistical surplus of such males.’
      • ‘I confess [he tells Jenny] I recollect some passages relating to that Summer, which formerly gave me a conceit that my sister had some liking to him.’
      • ‘Now it is as though the erosion of place has gone so far that exile is a hopeless conceit; if all places are interchangeable, with a McDonald's on every corner, there is no margin left to haunt.’
      • ‘It is through his attempt to get Givens to confess to his trickery that the narrator comes to realize the conceits he has constructed about himself.’
      • ‘There was much to the conceit but it never gained widespread acceptance and the events leading to 1947 and independence always took precedence over what had happened 90 years earlier.’
      • ‘This reinvent-the-wheel attitude is a conceit common to all great social and political movements.’
      • ‘Western rationality and pride in democracy can seem an intolerable, parochial conceit to those whose lives have been so violently disturbed.’
      • ‘This may be a romantic conceit, but it has been my understanding that some of the patterns knitted into traditional Aran wool sweaters were magical designs, meant to help protect the wearers while fishing.’
      • ‘Here the label - Occidentalist - appears to be less an idea than a conceit.’
      • ‘ALTHOUGH IT IS an old idea, the conceit that faith can maintain its hold on the imagination only as long as there are blinkers on human vision still has considerable appeal.’
      • ‘Each one was a girl of fair common-sense, and she did not delude herself with any vain conceits, or dress herself up, or give herself airs, in the idea of outshining the others.’
      • ‘The Rorschach inkblot conceit used for the catalogue was, like the ‘Lost Formats’ issue of Emigre, so overstated and dominant that it crushed the content.’
      • ‘What if IBM hadn't grown so damn big and hadn't developed such a massively complacent conceit of itself and its achievements?’
      idea, notion, fancy
      View synonyms


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘notion’, also ‘quaintly decorative article’): from conceive, on the pattern of pairs such as deceive, deceit.