adjective ne·far·i·ous \ni-ˈfer-ē-əs\

: evil or immoral

Full Definition of NEFARIOUS

:  flagrantly wicked or impious :  evil
ne·far·i·ous·ly adverb

Examples of NEFARIOUS

  1. a nefarious scheme to cheat people out of their money
  2. <the chaste heroines and nefarious villains of old-time melodramas>
  3. Moreover, those starry-eyed states inclined to perceive international relations in moral terms frequently underestimate the nefarious machinations of their competitors on the world political stage. —Richard Wolin, New Republic, 4 June 2001


Latin nefarius, from nefas crime, from ne- not + fas right, divine law; perhaps akin to Greek themis law, tithenai to place — more at do
First Known Use: circa 1609

Related to NEFARIOUS

black, dark, evil, immoral, iniquitous, bad, rotten, sinful, unethical, unlawful, unrighteous, unsavory, vicious, vile, villainous, wicked, wrong
decent, ethical, good, honest, honorable, just, moral, right, righteous, sublime, upright, virtuous

Synonym Discussion of NEFARIOUS

vicious, villainous, iniquitous, nefarious, corrupt, degenerate mean highly reprehensible or offensive in character, nature, or conduct. vicious may directly oppose virtuous in implying moral depravity, or may connote malignancy, cruelty, or destructive violence <a vicious gangster>. villainous applies to any evil, depraved, or vile conduct or characteristic <a villainous assault>. iniquitous implies absence of all signs of justice or fairness <an iniquitous system of taxation>. nefarious suggests flagrant breaching of time-honored laws and traditions of conduct <the nefarious rackets of organized crime>. corrupt stresses a loss of moral integrity or probity causing betrayal of principle or sworn obligations <city hall was rife with corrupt politicians>. degenerate suggests having sunk to an especially vicious or enervated condition <a degenerate regime propped up by foreign powers>.


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