• contrive •
Pronunciation: kên-traiv • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: 1. To devise through cleverness and ingenuity, to scheme, to think up. 2. To carry out, bring to pass, as to contrive a device or invention.
Notes: The noun accompanying today's Good Word is contrivance. This word, however, has taken on a second meaning: "an invented appliance or device" as in, "A toaster is a contrivance for making toast." The present participle also serves as the adjective, contriving "scheming" and the noun is straightforward, contriver "schemer".
In Play: We have positive and negative senses of today's Good Word. First, the positive: "Clara Sill has contrived an ointment that will remove zits." Now the negative sense: "Lucinda Head is contriving a way to get herself promoted with a big pay raise."
Word History: English acquired this word from Old French controver, contreuv- "to fabricate, distort the truth" (Modern French controuver). Middle English borrowed both stems as controve and contreve. Our ancestors finally settled on contreve and it arrived at our doorstep as contrive with its current meaning. Old French considerably remodeled Medieval Latin contropare "to compare" made up from com- "(together) with" + tropus "turn, style" + verbal suffix. Latin borrowed the root of this word from Greek tropos "a turn". English adopted this word via French as trope "turn of phrase". We also see it in all the words ending on -tropic, as in heliotropic "turning toward the sun", hydrotropic "growing (turning) toward water". (I think we should all now contrive to thank Dr. Keith Hartman of western Wisconsin for suggesting today's Good Word.)