The Meaning of Conviction: What It Is and How To Use It

Have you ever been confused by the definition of conviction? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word conviction, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word conviction mean?

According to Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary, and Cambridge Dictionary, the word conviction (pronounced kənˈvɪkʃən)  is a noun that has a couple of potential different meanings. First, the word conviction can refer to some strong belief or opinion. For example, someone can have conviction that their way of teaching is the best and only method for getting students to understand, while another teacher may have the opposite belief. This is often used to describe a political opinion or belief. Someone who is said to carry conviction has a strong belief in something. This could be a religious conviction or some other firm conviction.

The  word conviction can also be used to describe the process of finding a person guilty in a court of law. In this case, if someone is convicted, they are believed to be guilty of the crime that they are being tried for and will receive the appropriate sentence associated with said crime. A judge or jury will pass some judgment of conviction on the party that is being tried within the bounds of criminal law. Related words to the word conviction include convict, convicting, convicted, and more.

The word conviction also exists in many other languages. You may notice that some of these words look or sound similar to the word conviction. These cognates are formed when two words are of a similar origin. Many words in the English language began in other languages. This list of translations for the word conviction is provided by Word Sense.

  • Norwegian: overbevisning‎
  • Russian: убеждённость‎ (fem.), убежде́ние‎ (neut.)
  • Greek: πεποίθηση‎ (fem.), πίστη‎ (fem.)
  • Finnish: vakaumus‎
  • Swedish: övertygelse‎
  • Dutch: overtuiging‎
  • Slovene: prepričanje‎ (neut.)
  • Bulgarian: убеденост‎ (fem.)
  • Portuguese: convicção‎ (fem.)
  • Romanian: convingere‎, credință‎
  • Japanese: 信念‎ (shin’nen)
  • Polish: przekonanie‎ (neut.), przeświadczenie‎ (neut.)
  • German: Überzeugung‎ (fem.)
  • Czech: přesvědčení‎ (neut.)
  • Italian: convinzione‎ (fem.)
  • Spanish: convicción

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word conviction?

There are many different words that one can sue in place of the word conviction. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that mean the same thing as another word or phrase. Since the word conviction has two different potential definitions, this means that it has two sets of synonyms. Synonyms are useful to know if you want to expand your vocabulary or if you are trying to avoid repeating yourself. Both of these sets of synonyms for the word conviction are provided by Thesaurus.

Definition #1: belief or opinion

  • belief
  • sentiment
  • eye
  • faith
  • principle
  • dogma
  • opinion
  • judgment call
  • reliance
  • tenet
  • slant
  • doctrine
  • creed
  • persuasion
  • feeling
  • mind
  • view
  • say so
  • confidence

Definition #2: sentence

  • rap
  • unfavorable verdict
  • assuredness
  • confidence
  • condemning
  • fall
  • guilty sentence
  • condemnation
  • determining guilt
  • firmness
  • fervor
  • sureness
  • earnestness
  • surety
  • assurance
  • reliance
  • certainty
  • certitude

Since the word convocation has two sets of synonyms, this also means that the word has two sets of antonyms. Antonyms are words and phrases that have the opposite meaning as a given word or phrase. These lists of antonyms for the word conviction are also provided by Thesaurus.

Definition #1: belief, opinion

  • discredit
  • perplexity
  • lack of confidence
  • quandary
  • demurral
  • disbelief
  • reluctance
  • irresolution
  • skepticism
  • indecision
  • hesitancy
  • hesitation
  • distrust
  • suspicion
  • faithlessness
  • disquiet
  • misgiving
  • dubiousness
  • incredulity
  • agnosticism
  • incertitude
  • dubiety
  • diffidence
  • problem
  • difficulty
  • lack of faith
  • wavering
  • ambiguity
  • apprehension
  • suspense
  • scruple
  • confusion
  • vacillation
  • mistrust
  • qualm
  • fear
  • uncertainty
  • faltering
  • dilemma
  • rejection
  • doubt

Definition #2: guilty sentence

  • exemption
  • letting off the hook
  • discharge
  • letting off
  • exculpation
  • freedom
  • absolvance
  • whitewashing
  • justification
  • sanitization
  • disburdening
  • exception
  • relief
  • pardon
  • vindication
  • exoneration
  • release
  • freeing
  • wiping the slate clean
  • liberation
  • dismissal
  • acquittal

What is the origin of the word conviction?

According to Etymonline, the word conviction has been used since the mid-15th century to describe the process of finding someone guilty of some charged offense. This word comes from the Late Latin convictionem which is the nominative Latin convictio meaning some proof or refutation. This is the noun form the the past participle stem form of the Latin verb convincere, meaning to overcome. This word comes from the pintensive prefix com and the root vincere, meaning to conquer. Vincere comes from the Proto-Indo-European root weik meaning to fight or conquer. The word conviction was first used to mean the mental state of being convinced in the 1690s, and was used to describe some firm belief since the year 1841. This word has been used in a religious sense since the 1670s.

How can the word conviction be used in a sentence?

The word conviction has many different applicable settings in different sentences. In this example, 6-year-old Theodosia insists to her parents that she wants to be a vegetarian. Her parents discuss this.

Mom: Theodosia says she’s a vegetarian now. Once she found out where all of her meals came from, she refused to eat them. What are we going to do?

Dad: What can we do? We’ve raised a daughter with strong convictions. I say we let her be a vegetarian. What’s the harm? So we eat a little more tofu?

In this next example, Theodosia’s mom and dad are watching the news.

News Anchor: In a shocking turn of events, there has been a conviction in the murder trial…

Overall, the word conviction has two different meanings. It can either refer to criminal convictions, in which some party being tried for a crime is found guilty. It can also refer to moral convictions, which are strongly held beliefs. Strong convictions are usually found in debates, religious settings, and politics.