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[kuh n-seet] /kənˈsit/
an excessively favorable opinion of one's own ability, importance, wit, etc.
something that is conceived in the mind; a thought; idea:
He jotted down the conceits of his idle hours.
imagination; fancy.
a fancy; whim; fanciful notion.
an elaborate, fanciful metaphor, especially of a strained or far-fetched nature.
the use of such metaphors as a literary characteristic, especially in poetry.
a fancy, purely decorative article.
British Dialect.
  1. favorable opinion; esteem.
  2. personal opinion or estimation.
Obsolete. the faculty of conceiving; apprehension.
verb (used with object)
to flatter (especially oneself).
British Dialect. to take a fancy to; have a good opinion of.
  1. to imagine.
  2. to conceive; apprehend.
out of conceit with, displeased or dissatisfied with.
1350-1400; Middle English conceyte, conceipt, derivative of conceive by analogy with deceive, deceit and receive, receipt; compare Anglo-French conceite; see concept
1. self-esteem, vanity, egotism, complacency. See pride.
1. humility. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for conceit
  • conceit implies an exaggerated estimate of one's own abilities or attainments, together with pride: blinded by conceit.
  • It is not a new conceit, but it has rarely been a more apposite one.
  • We bask in the conceit of rational control when such control is not to be had.
  • Knowingness is a celebration of the conceit that what the squares knew, or thought they knew, was worthless.
  • But beneath all this playacting and conceit and gullibility was a pith of seriousness.
  • It was a brilliant turn of phrase, but the idea itself remained merely an artistic conceit.
  • Not so: the conceit is maintained throughout, apart from a couple of dizzying interruptions.
  • The sense of national drift is no longer a novelist's overheated conceit.
  • The conceit and ignorance on display here is astounding but entirely expected.
  • But she stood to her resolve, and with a foolish conceit of her own skill rushed on her fate.
British Dictionary definitions for conceit


a high, often exaggerated, opinion of oneself or one's accomplishments; vanity
(literary) an elaborate image or far-fetched comparison, esp as used by the English Metaphysical poets
  1. a witty expression
  2. fancy; imagination
  3. an idea
(obsolete) a small ornament
verb (transitive)
(Northern English, dialect) to like or be able to bear (something, such as food or drink)
(obsolete) to think or imagine
Word Origin
C14: from conceive
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for conceit

late 14c., "something formed in the mind, thought, notion," from conceiven (see conceive) based on analogy of deceit and receipt. Sense evolved from "something formed in the mind," to "fanciful or witty notion" (1510s), to "vanity" (c.1600) through shortening of self-conceit (1580s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for conceit

figure of speech, usually a simile or metaphor, that forms an extremely ingenious or fanciful parallel between apparently dissimilar or incongruous objects or situations. The Petrarchan conceit, which was especially popular with Renaissance writers of sonnets, is a hyperbolic comparison made generally by a suffering lover of his beautiful and cruel mistress to some physical object-e.g., a tomb, the ocean, the sun. The metaphysical conceit, associated with the Metaphysical poets of the 17th century, is a more intricate and intellectual device. It usually sets up an analogy between one entity's spiritual qualities and an object in the physical world and sometimes controls the whole structure of the poem. For example, in the following stanzas from "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning," John Donne compares two lovers' souls to a draftsman's compass:If they be two, they are two soAs stiffe twin compasses are two,Thy soule the fixt foot, makes no showTo move, but doth, if the'other doe.And though it in the center sit,Yet when the other far doth rome,It leanes, and hearkens after it,And growes erect, as that comes home

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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