For example:

Jack thinks he's responsible for killing his mother and thus for his uncle’s conceived hatred towards him.

Here, I mean to say that Jack assumes his uncle hates him (of course, Jack is sure, but it may not be the truth). And I think it'd be incorrect to say "...and thus for his uncle's assumed hatred towards him." Is conceived also incorrect?

I tried looking for other sentences that use conceive similarly, but those sentences seem to be using conceive to say hatred was formed.

Really, my goal is to say "...and thus for his uncle's hatred towards him, though Jack only assumes his uncle hates him--his uncle truly does not." Or something along those lines. I'm trying to make this sentence more concise by using conceived this way, but am not sure if this is the right approach. Suggestions?

6 Answers 6


Try perceived instead of conceived.

  • @KristinaLopez so would it be correct to say, "Jack thinks he's responsible for killing his mother and thus for his uncle’s perceived hatred towards him." Or does this sentence require some rewording? Would there be any confusion as to who is perceiving the hatred?
    – Blue
    Commented Jan 13, 2013 at 23:56
  • @Blue, the sentence you just used in the comment above is perfectly clear to me with no confusion that he, himself, is responsible for his uncle's hatred of him (which, of course, without confirmation from the uncle, must remain his perception for now). Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 0:08
  • 1
    There's no real justification for switching to perceived unless OP is writing for people with limited knowledge of English. Personally, I think conception is a more appropriate term, since Jack has obviously created this imaginary hatred entirely within his own mind. It's not something that he's perceived with his [distorted] senses. But if any "attributive" adjective is inserted between uncle's and hatred, unavoidably it will grammatically associate with the uncle, not Jack. The fact that we know what the writer means doesn't make it "right". Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 2:18
  • I agree; I just ended up writing up a whole new sentence because it wasn't working out for me.
    – Blue
    Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 21:19

OED says this under conceived (past participle adjective)...

Admitted into, or originated in, the mind; imagined, thought of, etc.: see the verb.

As @Blue comments, the sentence itself probably needs rephrasing whether the specific word is conceived/assumed/perceived/imagined/whatever, since structurally it would seem the "assuming mind" being referenced is that of the uncle. But logic suggests it's probably supposed to be Jack's.

  • Ah, a different opinion. Well, I've literally spent the last 20 minutes trying to reword the sentence and I believe it isn't within my capability right now. If anyone has any suggestions, I would be eternally grateful, but for now, I think I'll just change it entirely.
    – Blue
    Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 0:17
  • @Blue: I'd do that. But I think the problem is if you switch it to anything like "and thus he imagines his uncle hates him," still in the same sentence, there's a certain implication that this imaginary hatred is equally or even more important to Jack than the fact that he thinks he caused his mother's death. Which seems unlikely, whatever the rest of the context. I'd put off mentioning the "conceit" (OED: a conception, notion, idea, thought; obsolete) until you start a new sentence. Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 2:05
  • Well, the main point I'm trying to get across with this sentence is that he thinks his uncle hates him, which is obviously bad, because this misconception causes him to have an even worse misconception (that he killed his mother). The poor relationship between the two is the main focus though. I ended up just making the sentence "Jack believes he is responsible for the death of his mother and that his uncle despises him for this reason." Not satisfied with it, but better than the original sentence I struggled so much with.
    – Blue
    Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 21:13
  • @Blue: If that's what you meant, I think you really need a rewrite. It would never occur to me to suppose that the reason Jack thinks he caused his mother's death is because [he thinks] his uncle hates him. To me, your "and thus" implies precisely the opposite in terms of cause and effect. Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 21:41
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    Perceived, imagined, and assumed all could fit, but have slightly different meanings ("perceived" means behaviour looks like hatred but might have an innocent reason, "imagined" suggests you've been blowing it up in your mind out of nothing, and "assumed" is more like prejudice or explicitly without evidence).
    – Stuart F
    Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 9:59

No. I can't find any such usage that's valid, nor does "conceive" show up as a synonym for "assume" in the free online thesaurus. What's wrong with "assumed" when you mean "assumed"?

How I might structure it-- there are scads of ways:

Jack thinks he's responsible for killing his mother, and that his uncle's knowledge of this has caused his uncle to hate him. However, Uncle Shloim later reveals that this is not the case, by cooking Jack a delicious, unpoisoned bass.

Conciseness is nice, but it ain't everything.

  • 1
    Thanks for the creative example! I think I'll use it. I know conciseness isn't everything, but my teacher stressed that I need to work on being more concise, so I'm trying really hard to right now as I'm writing my essay... I feel like it's detracting from my work (as shown in my attempt at this messed up sentence), but oh well. I digress.
    – Blue
    Commented Jan 13, 2013 at 23:36

Can you reword such that your use of conceived better indicates 'apparent genesis of'? i.e.,

The act that leads Jack to believe he killed his mother, conceives in his Uncle a hatred...?

  • 1
    My problem with this is that it doesn't indicate that Jack's uncle's hatred is only conceived by Jack. So his uncle doesn't really hate him. I'm trying to use conceive as in "to hold as an opinion; think; believe"
    – Blue
    Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 21:17

'interpretation' or 'impression' or '*ception' would work if you STOP REFERENCING HATRED in unqualified manner which makes it objective, setting you up for contradiction trying to frame it as a subjective conjecture using any synonym. Remember, if Jack's wrong, append 'mis-' to your synonyms.

  • +1 for the point about prepending "mis-" to the chosen term, to explicitly indicate that Jack is mistaken in his belief. Commented Nov 24, 2022 at 16:23

I often complain about the excessive use of pronouns.

Eventually, I have come to the conclusion that Jack thinks that he (Jack) is responsible for killing/the death of his own mother and that his maternal uncle (i.e. her brother) hates him (Jack) for this reason.

At this stage we do not know (i) if Jack has killed his own mother or (ii) if the uncle really hates him or, (iii) if the uncle does hate Jack, that it is Jack's mother's death that is the reason for uncle's hatred.


Jack thinks he's responsible for killing his own mother and that as a result Jack's maternal uncle’s has conceived a hatred towards him.

Conceive: OED

I. Senses relating to mental or emotional states, or their expression.

1.a. transitive. To form (an intention, design, etc.) in the mind or (in early use) the heart; to plan, devise, or formulate.

1931 J. Sherrod Scapegoats 49 One of the most vicious policies ever conceived.

1999 Guardian 5 Nov. a15/3 He finally conceives an undignified plan to destroy her political career.


4.a. transitive. †To become affected or possessed by (an emotion) (obsolete); to form or develop (an attitude or feeling) towards a person or thing.

Note that this is marked obsolete. However, we have recent usage - the 2005 quote is particularly germane:

1974 E. L. Doctorow Ragtime (1976) i. 6 He had conceived an enormous interest in the works and career of Harry Houdini.

2005 N.Y. Rev. Bks. 1 Dec. 56/2 She conceived a stealthy hatred of..people who chitter-chatter and fritter life away.

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