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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    Question Correct use of "conceive"

    Hi, I'm attempting some poetry writing and I'm wondering if the following sentence is correct:

    "It's hard to conceive of a feeling so profound and deep."

    I'm trying to say that it's difficult to grasp mentally, since it goes beyond imagination.
    Would conceive be the correct word to express this?
    I really like the way it sounds especially in the context of the rhyme and meter.

    Also, is there a difference between "conceive sth." and "conceive of sth."?
    E.g. could I also say "conceive a feeling" in the above sentence?

    Cheers!
    Last edited by haiduc; 24-Jan-2012 at 11:11.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Correct use of "conceive"

    Quote Originally Posted by haiduc View Post
    Hi, I'm attempting some poetry writing and I'm wondering if the following sentence is correct:

    "It's hard to conceive of a feeling so profound and deep."

    I'm trying to say that it's difficult to grasp mentally, since it goes beyond imagination.
    Would conceive be the correct word to express this?
    I really like the way it sounds especially in the context of the rhyme and meter.

    Also, is there a difference between "conceive sth." and "conceive of sth."?
    E.g. could I also say "conceive a feeling" in the above sentence?

    Cheers!
    Your line is OK. The expression 'conceive a feeling' is sometimes used in the sense 'begin to have a feeling'. In 'conceive of a feeling' the person doing the conceiving is not the same person as the one who's feeling: in 'I can't conceive of anyone feeling that desperate' I'm not the one who's feeling desperate.

    b

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    #3

    Re: Correct use of "conceive"

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Your line is OK. The expression 'conceive a feeling' is sometimes used in the sense 'begin to have a feeling'. In 'conceive of a feeling' the person doing the conceiving is not the same person as the one who's feeling: in 'I can't conceive of anyone feeling that desperate' I'm not the one who's feeling desperate.

    b

    Many thanks for your reply!

    So if I want to say that the person conceiving is also the one who's feeling - which I want in this case - I'd need to omit the 'of'.

    Does 'conceive a feeling' also have the meaning of 'mentally grasp' or does it always mean 'begin to have'?
    I want to say that the person is overwhelmed by the feeling and is thus having difficulty to understand or imagine it mentally.

    Thanks again!

  4. BobK's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Correct use of "conceive"

    Quote Originally Posted by haiduc View Post
    Many thanks for your reply!

    So if I want to say that the person conceiving is also the one who's feeling - which I want in this case - I'd need to omit the 'of'.

    Does 'conceive a feeling' also have the meaning of 'mentally grasp'
    [Note my 'sometimes' It seems to me that the word 'conceive' on its own is sufficient - if you just mean 'mentally grasp'. or does it always mean 'begin to have'?
    I want to say that the person is overwhelmed by the feeling and is thus having difficulty to understand or imagine it mentally.

    Thanks again!
    That context makes my brain hurt . I'm not sure how it would be possible to conceive of a feeling; one could, for example, understand or sympathize with it (and if that usage of 'sympathize' bothers you, try a dictionary - it doesn't mean 'be sorry for' ).

    I feel the ground shifting under my feet! I don't really like 'conceive of a feeling', and 'conceive a feeling' - if it means anything - doesn't mean what you want it to mean. Let's make it more concrete by specifying an emotion: I can say 'You can't conceive of how angry I am', but I can't think what it would mean if I said 'I can't conceive of how angry I am' - I'm feeling it; if it's overwhelming, I know it's an overwhelming feeling.

    But stick with the 'of' - you prefer the sound, and it means what it means in the context.

    b
    Last edited by BobK; 26-Jan-2012 at 14:44. Reason: Clarify

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    #5

    Re: Correct use of "conceive"

    Thanks a lot Bob, that has been most helpful!
    If it sounds weird after all I'll just refer to my artistic freedom

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