Printable Version
Pronunciation: kê-naiv Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive

Meaning: 1. To secretly plot, to scheme behind someone's back. 2. To turn a blind eye to, to pretend not to know about a misdeed carried out by someone, as to connive at the worthlessness of derivative securities being accumulated by a bank.

Notes: The noun suffix -ery is associated with mischief and we find it converting words referring to mischief of various sorts into nouns: thievery, debauchery, jiggery-pokery, to mention only a few. So it comes as no surprise that we create a noun from today's Good Word by adding this suffix: connivery. I much prefer this noun to the more common one, connivance, due to its more befitting suffix. A conniving person is a conniver.

In Play: Connivery usually involves skullduggery of some sort: "Anna Conda connived for weeks with the office secretary and the previous occupant to get the corner office when it was vacated." The crucial element, however, is a mindful secret operation; it need not involve misbehavior: "Melanie was happy that all the conniving she involved her family in resulted in a successful surprise birthday party for her sister."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes via French conniver from Latin connivere "to blink, wink, close the eyes", made up of com- "together" + a variant of nictare "to wink, blink". The original metaphorical sense was apparently either to "wink at" or "close a blind eye to", metaphors we use in English today. The original Proto-Indo-European word from which nictare was derived was knei-gwh- "to bend". In the Germanic languages it emerged as Old Norse hniga and Modern German neigen "to bend, to bow". (Today we have decided without any connivery to thank Rune Ellingsen of Norway for suggesting today's very Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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