Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act.
  • n. A group of conspirators.
  • n. Law An agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime or accomplish a legal purpose through illegal action.
  • n. A joining or acting together, as if by sinister design: a conspiracy of wind and tide that devastated coastal areas.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The act of two or more persons, called conspirators, working secretly to obtain some goal, usually understood with negative connotations.
  • n. An agreement between two or more persons to break the law at some time in the future.
  • n. A group of ravens.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A combination of people for an evil purpose; an agreement, between two or more persons, to commit a crime in concert, as treason; a plot.
  • n. A concurence or general tendency, as of circumstances, to one event, as if by agreement.
  • n. An agreement, manifesting itself in words or deeds, by which two or more persons confederate to do an unlawful act, or to use unlawful to do an act which is lawful; confederacy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A combination of persons for an evil purpose; an agreement between two or more persons to commit in concert something reprehensible, injurious, or illegal; particularly, a combination to commit treason, or excite sedition or insurrection; a plot; concerted treason.
  • n. Hence Any concurrence in action; combination in bringing about a given result.
  • n. Synonyms Intrigue, cabal, machination.
  • n. An ancient writ which was issued against parties alleged to be guilty of a conspiracy to indict a party for treason or a felony.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a group of conspirators banded together to achieve some harmful or illegal purpose
  • n. a plot to carry out some harmful or illegal act (especially a political plot)
  • n. a secret agreement between two or more people to perform an unlawful act

Etymologies

Middle English conspiracie, from Anglo-Norman, probably alteration of Old French conspiration, from Latin cōnspīrātiō, cōnspīrātiōn-, from cōnspīrātus, past participle of cōnspīrāre, to conspire; see conspire.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
The verb conspire generally accepted of coming from the Latin roots con ("with"), and spiro ("I breathe") — so 'to conspire' literally means 'to breathe together'. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • It's a conspiracy theory about ­conspiracy theories, about the ­powerful ­mythology of the greatest crime of the American century.

    Books on Political Conspiracy

  • Your Palin conspiracy is in left field according to LL.

    Paulson stadium deal funnels Portland tax money to New York (Jack Bog's Blog)

  • Barrie Zwicker, Canadian media commentator and journalist: "At a certain point, the term conspiracy-theory becomes just an excuse not to do your homework."

    two words, part two

  • Conspiracy Theories: The Philosophical Debate, the term conspiracy theory started to carry negative connotations after the philosopher Karl Popper wrote, during the Third Reich, that conspiracy theories propelled the paranoid ideologies that gave rise to totalitarian regimes such as that of Adolf Hitler.

    AlterNet.org Main RSS Feed

  • The term conspiracy is not limited to an unlawful scheme or plot.

    Original Signal - Transmitting Web 2.0

  • The word "conspiracy," a character notes, derives from the Latin for "breathe together."

    Rootless Urban Transplants

  • Objectors gave spirited critiques of what they described as a conspiracy against culture itself.

    In the Plex

  • He said sectarian strife is putting the country in peril and the government is trying to save it from what he calls a conspiracy.

    Egypt to Use 'Iron Hand' for Security After Deadly Sectarian Violence

  • He was as a Senate Leader first among equals in what we call a conspiracy of whispers.

    CNN Transcript Jan 11, 2010

  • He was, as the Senate leader, first among equals in what we call a conspiracy of whisperers, people who thought that Hillary Clinton would be devastating as the nominee of the Democratic Party, that she would probably lose the general election and would hurt Democrats down-ballot.

    CNN Transcript Jan 11, 2010

Comments

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  • "Organizing a community around a basic issue of survival, such as food, makes a lot of nitty gritty sense. After your conspiracy gets off the ground and looks permanent, you should seek to expand it to include more members and an emergency food fund should be set up in case something happens in the community. There should also be a fund whereby the conspiracy can sponsor free community dinners tied into celebrations. Get it together and join the fight for a world-wide food conspiracy."
    - Abbie Hoffman, 'Steal This Book', 1971.

    February 19, 2009

  • CONSPIRACY: Theories of mortal conspiracies reflect ordinary consciousness' secular attempt to tie everything together; it is the ventriloquist dummy's cellular recognition of unidentified forces behind the words coming out of his mouth. --Jan Cox

    January 25, 2008

  • A flock of ravens

    November 16, 2007