I am not a native speaker of English and It's become very confusing to understand the meaning of "conceive of" . To conceive means to conceptualize; but why we mostly use preposition of with conceive?

Consider this sentence :

I conceived of a machine that would help the mechanical engineers.

replacing it with conceptualize it becomes :

I conceptualized a machine that would help the mechanical engineers.

It looks perfectly accurate without the preposition for. Can somebody please explain its exact meaning?


You can use "conceive" as a transitive verb with a direct object, or as an intransitive verb, with "of".
American Heritage Dictionary "conceive"


  1. To form or develop in the mind: conceive a plan to increase profits; conceive a passion for a new acquaintance.
  2. To apprehend mentally; understand: couldn't conceive the meaning of that sentence.


  1. To form or hold an idea: Ancient peoples conceived of the earth as flat.

To me, "conceive" sounds more concrete. "Conceive of" sounds more vague. I don't think there's much difference.

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