Concept, Conception, Conceive, Conceptualize

From Collins COBUILD


  1. If you can conceive of something, you can imagine that it might happen or might be possible.
  2. If you conceive something as something else, you consider it in that way.
  3. If you conceive a plan or idea (no preposition), you think of it and work out how it can be done or put into practice. (Think of create.)


If you conceptualize something, you form an idea of it in your mind. In early childhood these notions are difficult to conceptualize. (Think understand, see.)


A concept is an idea or abstract principle which relates to a particular subject or to a particular view of that subject. Monetarism is an extremely simple concept in principle… People will be familiar with the concept that all substances are made up of molecules.


1. A conception is a general idea that you have in your mind when you think about something. He had a definite conception of how he wanted things arranged… The eternal imposition on children of adult conceptions and values is a great sin.

2. Conception is 2.1 the forming of an idea for something in your mind. The plan was very imaginative in conception 2.2 the ability to imagine that something might happen or might be possible. I have no conception of how your plan could work.

From Webster’s Dictionary of Synonyms

Concept, conception

idea, concept, conception, thought, notion, impression mean what exists in the mind as a representation of something that it apprehends or comprehends or as a formulation of an opinion, a plan, or a design… Concept applies in logic to the idea of a thing which the mind conceives after knowing many instances of the category to which it belongs and which is devoid of all details except those that are typical or generic… In more general use the term applies to a formulated and widely accepted idea of what a thing should be… Conception is often used in place of concept in this latter sense; in fact it is sometimes preferred by those who wish to keep concept as a technical term of logic. However conception so strongly suggests the activity of the mental power of bringing into existence an idea of something not yet realized or not yet given outward form that it often implies not only the exercise of the reflective powers but of the imagination as colored by feeling; the term therefore more often applies to a peculiar or an individual idea than to one held by men as a whole or by an entire class, profession, or group… Conception is also, especially in literary and art criticism, the usual term for the idea or design conceived by the writer or artist in advance of or in company with his giving it expression or form.


Think, conceive, imagine, fancy, realize, envisage, envision are comparable when they mean to form an idea or notion of something in the mind… Conceive implies a bringing forth in the mind of an organized product of thought (as an idea, a plan, a project, or a design); often the term suggests the growth and development of that idea as the mind dwells upon it and brings it into being.