The online dictionary, freedictionary.com, gives several definitions of the verb, conceive.

  1. To become pregnant with
  2. To form or develop in the mind
  3. To apprehend mentally; understand
  4. To be of the opinion that; think
  5. To begin or originate in a specific way

I am interested in the second definition. Next, I am going to use it in a sentence:

It took me at least thirty minutes to conceive a good thesis statement for my essay.

Is it correct to say conceive a thesis statement?

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    Yes, but we would tend to use the phrasal verb: come up with a good thesis statement. – Lambie Aug 14 '18 at 21:31
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    @Lambie I agree, but I think that's because conceive sounds a bit formal, whereas the surrounding text appears to be informal in style (and not because it co-occurs with a thesis statement). Am I on the right track? People don't normally talk about conceiving something themselves, do they? The idiom come up with is markedly informal, in my view, and therefore suitable for conversational English. I cannot conceive... on the other hand sounds elevated. – userr2684291 Aug 14 '18 at 22:10

Yes, your sentence is grammatical and makes perfect sense. This usage of conceive basically means "to invent or devise" a plan, an idea, or an invention. It is synonymous with "to think up", "to come up with." For example:

That script was conceived and written by Spielberg.

The project was conceived in the 1990s, but wasn't carried out until 2004.


One conceives a plan, a project, a program, a book. a film. Something that is long or long-ish.

I would not say to conceive a statement. Personal choice.

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