noun chi·me·ra \kī-ˈmir-ə, kə-\

Definition of chimera

  1. 1a capitalized :  a fire-breathing she-monster in Greek mythology having a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tailb :  an imaginary monster compounded of incongruous parts

  2. 2 :  an illusion or fabrication of the mind; especially :  an unrealizable dream a fancy, a chimera in my brain, troubles me in my prayer — John Donne His utopia was a chimera.

  3. 3 :  an individual, organ, or part consisting of tissues of diverse genetic constitution A hybrid created through fusion of a sperm and an egg from different species is a chimera.

chimera was our Word of the Day on 03/11/2007. Hear the podcast!

Examples of chimera in a sentence

  1. Economic stability in that country is a chimera.

  2. a monster in the closet would not have been the first chimera that the boy had seen in his mind's eye

Did You Know?

In Greek mythology, the Chimera was a fearsome, fire-breathing monster with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a dragon's tail. She terrorized the people of Lycia until their king, Iobates, asked the hero Bellerophon to slay her. Iobates had an ulterior motive; his son-in-law wanted Bellerophon killed and the king was sure the Chimera would do the job. But Bellerophon called in Pegasus, the winged horse, and brought the Chimera down from above. The beast lived on in people's imaginations, and English speakers adopted her name for any similarly grotesque monster, or, later, for anything fanciful.

Origin and Etymology of chimera

Latin chimaera, from Greek chimaira she-goat, chimera; akin to Old Norse gymbr yearling ewe, Greek cheimōn winter — more at hibernate

First Known Use: 14th century

Other Genetics Terms

CHIMERA Defined for English Language Learners


noun chi·me·ra \kī-ˈmir-ə, kə-\

Definition of chimera for English Language Learners

  • Chimera : a monster from Greek mythology that breathes fire and has a lion's head, a goat's body, and a snake's tail

  • : something that exists only in the imagination and is not possible in reality

Medical Dictionary


noun chi·me·ra
variants: or chiefly British


\kī-ˈmir-ə, kə-\play

Medical Definition of chimera

  1. :  an individual, organ, or part containing tissue with two or more genetically distinct populations of cells

Biographical Note for chimera


, Greek mythological character. The Chimera was a fire-breathing she-monster made up of the front parts of a lion, the middle parts of a goat, and the tail of a snake.

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up chimera? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a trip made at another's expense

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