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conceive of someone or something

to think of or invent the notion of someone or something. Who on earth ever conceived of doing this? Edison conceived of many very useful things that we now use every day.
See also: conceive, of

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 ?
Steerforth - who cut his name very deep and very often, who, I conceived, would read it in a rather strong voice, and afterwards pull my hair.
It was as if a clumsy clod had trod upon his toe and he conceived it to be his privilege, his duty, to use deep, resentful oaths.
testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated.
Having conceived her work thus, she has brought a rare instinct for probability and nature to the difficult task of combining this religious motive and all the learned thought it involves, with a very genuine interest in many varieties of average mundane life.
It is depressing to see so really noble a character as Catherine soured, as we feel, and lowered, as time goes on, from the happy resignation of the first volume (in which solemn, beautiful, and entire, and so very real, she is like a poem of Wordsworth) down to the mere passivity of the third volume, and the closing scene of Robert Elsmere's days, very exquisitely as this episode of unbelieving yet saintly biography has been conceived and executed.
I conceived her so sympathetic that she always laughed before he came to the joke, and I am sure she had filmy eyes from the very start of a pathetic story.
But however it came about he had conceived the idea that I was an outcast for a reason similar to his own, and I let his mistake pass, it seemed to matter so little and to draw us together so naturally.
A flower, and a woman; both of them, as he conceived, lost to him for ever.
He never conceived a respect for the world, because he had begun with no idols that it had smashed.
14-16) Once the Son of Cronos was joined with her in love; and she conceived and bare a daughter Pandia, exceeding lovely amongst the deathless gods.
But fortune, who is a tender parent, and often doth more for her favourite offspring than either they deserve or wish, had been so industrious for the captain, that whilst he was laying schemes to execute his purpose, the lady conceived the same desires with himself, and was on her side contriving how to give the captain proper encouragement, without appearing too forward; for she was a strict observer of all rules of decorum.
According to this view, a particular cat can be PERceived or imagined, while the universal "cat" is CONceived.
But Levin was in love, and so it seemed to him that Kitty was so perfect in every respect that she was a creature far above everything earthly; and that he was a creature so low and so earthly that it could not even be conceived that other people and she herself could regard him as worthy of her.
As I applied so closely, it may be easily conceived that my progress was rapid.
He conceived himself to be calm -- inexorably calm; but as a matter of fact he was daunted; not abjectly, but only so far as a decent man may, without becoming loathsome to himself.