Definition of contrive in English:



  • 1 Create or bring about (an object or a situation) by deliberate use of skill and artifice.

    ‘his opponents contrived a cabinet crisis’
    [with infinitive] ‘you contrived to be alone with me despite the supervision’
    • ‘I was satisfied, however, that her account of the relevant conversations was an honest one, in the sense that they had not been deliberately contrived by her as a false account.’
    • ‘As a consequence story-writers are forced to contrive elaborate plots that just go on and on and on.’
    • ‘She knows that she must not run and yet, desperate as she is, cannot contrive an escape plan.’
    • ‘The referendum itself was completely contrived.’
    • ‘The ones contriving the plan knew well enough to keep it secret from many friends and foes, and conned well enough to develop new technology almost completely foreign to the offending cultures.’
    • ‘To complete his tapestry of interwoven plots, the resolution had to be brilliantly contrived.’
    • ‘Expression of the firm's history is contrived through design of the lobby.’
    • ‘It is something that cannot be contrived in normal circumstances.’
    • ‘He briefly tried his hand at furniture design and excels at contriving quirky contraptions and uncanny objects, some of which find their way into elaborate environments.’
    • ‘We contrived a number of chances to claim the biggest scalp of all during that game, but a couple of individual errors cost us dear.’
    • ‘And since I'm making melodrama, contriving a plot is hardly a betrayal of that.’
    • ‘He clearly did not want another plan for his assassination to be contrived.’
    • ‘The real miracle, though, is that you could contrive a way to have a food crisis.’
    • ‘The student had fabricated the story and, as it later appeared, contrived the voice of the second source as well.’
    • ‘And truly the point is not to contrive a precise plan or even to pass a plan that does all of the above.’
    • ‘Gilda soon runs away from the horrible situation, but Johnny contrives her return for a final confrontation.’
    • ‘I do not think these coincidences were consciously contrived.’
    • ‘Another dictionary I looked at actually states that an architect is a person who plans, devises, or contrives the achievement of a desired result.’
    • ‘Fragments are always contrived into a structure of continuity and context.’
    • ‘The plot contrives miracles and coincidence to suggest there's something deeper going on behind the free-wheeling mess on-screen.’
    bring about, engineer, cause to happen, manufacture, orchestrate, stage-manage, create
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[with infinitive]Manage to do something foolish or create an undesirable situation.
      ‘he contrived to flood the flat three times’
      • ‘Where other managements would somehow contrive to squeeze double the number of rooms within the same confines, they always seems to go in the opposite direction, as though trying to see how few rooms he can incorporate.’
      • ‘Credit to both sides for braving the elements and playing this game but, really, the weather contrived to make good football impossible and this game was very one-sided indeed.’
      • ‘Both contrive to produce misses out of impossibly promising situations.’
      • ‘Even if you manage to get them in, they will contrive to escape at the first opportunity.’
      • ‘It contrives to combine boastfulness, ignorance, insecurity and hostility in ample and self-reinforcing measures.’
      • ‘Were the Gods contriving to do us down once more on the major stage of the championship day?’
      • ‘For a man who spends so much time in the gym and out on the golf course, he contrives to keep remarkably poor health.’
      • ‘My objection to this nonsense is not some kind of intellectual refinement or theological snobbery that contrives to dismiss popular devotions as somehow beneath a sophisticated and modern Christianity.’
      • ‘However, it never ceases to amaze me how this country contrives to waste its natural assets.’
      • ‘Scotland contrived to manage what eight different nations had failed signally to do in Cardiff yesterday - they lost to Wales.’
      • ‘By doing so they contrived to create, among other problems, the great gasoline shortage of the 1970s.’
      • ‘And, like a rash that won't go away, he contrives to be everywhere.’
      manage, find a way, engineer a way, arrange
      View synonyms


Middle English: from Old French contreuve-, stressed stem of controver imagine, invent, from medieval Latin contropare compare.