conceive of as

conceive of someone or something as someone or something

to think of someone as being someone else; to think of something as being something else. I can't conceive of you as a pilot. I can conceive of this grassy spot as a very interesting setting for a cottage.
See also: conceive, of
References in classic literature ?
To conceive of a man being free we must imagine him outside space, which is evidently impossible.