March 01, 2015
conclave (noun)
\KAHN-klayv\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: a private or secret meeting or assembly
How do you use it?
"The Chieftains meanwhile had assembled in close conclave in the great hall of the castle." (Sir Walter Scott, _A Legend of Montrose_)
Are you a word wiz?

The origin of the word "conclave" involves a common household object. Which of the objects below do you think has a connection with "conclave"?

If you chose A, you found the key to "conclave." "Conclave" was adopted from a Latin word meaning "room that can be locked up." Latin speakers formed their word by combining "com-," meaning "with," and "clavis," meaning "key." Today, "conclave" refers not to the locked rooms but to the private meetings and secret assemblies that occur within them. The meaning of "conclave" has also expanded to include gatherings that are not necessarily secret or private but simply involve people with shared interests.
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