Results 1 to 9 of 9
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Czech
      • Home Country:
      • Czech Republic
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Oct 2014
    • Posts: 805
    #1

    Conception vs idea

    Hello,

    Is possible to say "I have no conception what he is doing there" instead of "I have no idea what is doing there" or "We had no conception what was in store for us" instead of "We had no idea what was in store for us"?

    Thank you very much

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 24,983
    #2

    Re: Conception vs idea

    I would use "idea".

  2. tzfujimino's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Japanese
      • Home Country:
      • Japan
      • Current Location:
      • Japan

    • Join Date: Dec 2007
    • Posts: 2,697
    #3

    Re: Conception vs idea

    I've found "have no conception of something" here: http://www.macmillandictionary.com/d...n-of-something

    But I agree with Mike - it doesn't seem to fit your context.


  3. Barb_D's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2007
    • Posts: 19,221
    #4

    Re: Conception vs idea

    No "concept" might be a bit more interchangeable with "idea" but "conception"? No.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Czech
      • Home Country:
      • Czech Republic
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Oct 2014
    • Posts: 805
    #5

    Re: Conception vs idea

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    No "concept" might be a bit more interchangeable with "idea" but "conception"? No.

    I asked because I came across it in a story.

    “I have no conception at all as to how it came there,” she replied.

    E.L.White, The Message On The Slate

  4. MikeNewYork's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 24,983
    #6

    Re: Conception vs idea

    That was from 1906.

  5. Eckaslike's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Wales

    • Join Date: Jul 2015
    • Posts: 574
    #7

    Re: Conception vs idea

    I think that "conception" in this context means "understanding", and we nowadays use the word "idea" instead.

    "Conception" used in this manner probably went out of fashion in BrE around the 1940s or 1950s. It reminds me of Victorian writers, but would have continued to be used in this way probably up to the time of Agatha Christie. I can easily imagine her using it in one her Poirot or Miss Marple novels.

    As Mike pointed out that was a long time ago and this usage is archaic now.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Great Britain
      • Current Location:
      • Great Britain

    • Join Date: Sep 2015
    • Posts: 109
    #8

    Re: Conception vs idea

    I think Conception means Understanding- yes: more than Idea. Idea/ I have no idea is usually (in BrE) a way of emphasising "I don't know".
    I've been thinking about this one for a day or two. Imagine you are watching a tutor, say , repairing a computer. As you watch you are supposed to follow and understand so you can do it too. You are puzzled so you say " I have no conception of what he's doing" It means no understanding, but also no imagination; no picture in your mind of what is going on and the reasons for his actions.
    I don't think it's as obsolete in BrE as others might say. But, I agree- you're more likely to say concept. !! (but it still means something quite different from the common usage of "I have no idea".

  6. Eckaslike's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Wales

    • Join Date: Jul 2015
    • Posts: 574
    #9

    Re: Conception vs idea

    I think the usage of "conception" may be restricted to certain regions or social groupings. I can well imagine a group of university academics still using it quite happily, and easily understanding each other. However, most of the other people I know would use "I have no idea" or "I have absolutely no idea" instead, even in the example you gave.

    I think the problem is that people may not be able to understand how the tutor is repairing the computer, but they do understand the ideas of what a computer is and what it does, and also the idea of what repairing something means. So they can imagine it being repaired: they just don't know how to do it.

    This example sums up the usage you mention well:

    "The common throng had no conception of his problems; all of them thought being a dictator was the end-all." (meaning 2.2)
    http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us...ish/conception

    Who other than a dictator could have any knowledge, understanding or imagining of the problems or challenges a dictator might face, other than another dictator or one of his supporters: and then they wouldn't be part of the common throng.

    So there may still be a use for it in BrE, but it is just very restricted.

Similar Threads

  1. Concept and conception
    By Mher in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 20-Jun-2014, 14:36
  2. [Vocabulary] conception
    By angelene001 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 08-Apr-2014, 19:00
  3. fertilization/conception
    By panicmonger in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 30-Nov-2010, 02:27
  4. The conception of poem
    By hedy in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 27-Nov-2005, 23:33
  5. at the moment of your conception
    By beeja in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 17-Mar-2005, 19:11

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •