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[kuh n-sep-shuh n] /kənˈsɛp ʃən/
the act of conceiving; the state of being conceived.
fertilization; inception of pregnancy.
a notion; idea; concept:
She has some odd conceptions about life.
something that is conceived:
That machine is the conception of a genius.
origination; beginning:
The organization has been beset by problems from its conception.
a design; plan.
a sketch of something not actually existing:
an artist's conception of ancient Athens.
the act or power of forming notions, ideas, or concepts.
Origin of conception
1300-50; Middle English concepcion < Latin conceptiōn- (stem of conceptiō), equivalent to Latin concept- (see concept) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
conceptional, adjective
conceptive, adjective
postconception, adjective
reconception, noun
Can be confused
concept, conception, inception.
3. See idea. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for conception
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His conception of the proper qualities of the orator was high and noble.

    A History of Roman Literature Harold North Fowler
  • Here, then, we have Peter's conception of a pure soul and a pure life.

    Expositions of Holy Scripture Alexander Maclaren
  • While replenishing the common stock of Irish stories, Mr Birmingham adjusts our conception of the race.

    Law and Laughter George Alexander Morton
  • This conception was largely entertained in recent times by Faraday.

    Aether and Gravitation William George Hooper
  • Clerk Maxwell has given us, in his greatest work, his conception of the two kinds of energy due to electricity and magnetism.

    Aether and Gravitation William George Hooper
British Dictionary definitions for conception


something conceived; notion, idea, design, or plan
the description under which someone considers something: her conception of freedom is wrong
the fertilization of an ovum by a sperm in the Fallopian tube followed by implantation in the womb
origin or beginning: from its conception the plan was a failure
the act or power of forming notions; invention
Derived Forms
conceptional, conceptive, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Latin conceptiō, from concipere to conceive
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for conception

early 14c., "act of conceiving," from Old French concepcion (Modern French conception) "conception, grasp, comprehension," from Latin conceptionem (nominative conceptio) "a comprehending, conception," noun of action from stem of concipere (see conceive). Originally in the womb sense (also with reference to Conception Day in the Church calendar); mental sense "process of forming concepts" is late 14c. Meaning "that which is conceived in the mind" is from 1520s; "general notion" is from 1785.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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conception in Medicine

conception con·cep·tion (kən-sěp'shən)

  1. The act of forming a general idea or notion.

  2. The formation of a viable zygote by the union of a spermatozoon and an ovum; fertilization.

  3. See concept.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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conception in Science
The formation of a zygote resulting from the union of a sperm and egg cell; fertilization.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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conception in Culture

conception definition

Fertilization; the union of the sperm and ovum to form a zygote. (See reproductive systems.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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