chi·​me·​ra | \ kī-ˈmir-ə How to pronounce chimera (audio) , kə-\

Definition of chimera

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

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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.

Examples of chimera in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples on the Web

So, again, the 1631 campaign went all the way in the other direction, giving up on the chimera of bipartisan cooperation and instead seeking to knit together the fractious left. David Roberts, Vox, "Washington votes no on a carbon tax — again," 6 Nov. 2018 In the rankings of unusual critters, the Slingshot is up there with the sphinx, centaur, and chimera. Alex Davies, WIRED, "The Delightfully Nonsensical Slingshot Might Just Be the Future of Driving," 4 July 2018 From the beginning, the thylacine’s common names—zebra wolf, tiger wolf, opossum-hyena, Tasmanian dingo—marked it as another chimera, too incongruous to understand on its own terms. Brooke Jarvis, The New Yorker, "The Obsessive Search for the Tasmanian Tiger," 16 Jan. 2012 Listening to the new album is like diving into a glistening, sunlit pool only to find out its only two feet deep — and there’s a chimera at the bottom. Sarah Bahr, Indianapolis Star, "5 ways Paramore mixed past and present at the Lawn," 2 July 2018 The creation of chimeras that include human organs is more challenging, because people are less closely related to sheep and pigs than mice are to rats. The Economist, "Stem cells and gene editingUsing domestic animals to make human organs," 22 Feb. 2018 Instead of chasing this chimera, ordinary investors should use technology to correct for their innate flaws. The Economist, "Technology can tackle investors’ flaws," 26 Apr. 2018 At this juncture, a new economic monster appeared: stagflation, a chimera of inflation, recession, and unemployment. Caleb Crain, The New Yorker, "Is Capitalism a Threat to Democracy?," 7 May 2018 Far from being a chimera, Chimerica has become a seemingly stable symbiosis. Niall Ferguson And Xiang Xu, WSJ, "Trump and the ‘Chimerica’ Crisis," 6 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chimera.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of chimera

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for chimera

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

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The first known use of chimera was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of chimera

: a monster from Greek mythology that breathes fire and has a lion's head, a goat's body, and a snake's tail
formal : something that exists only in the imagination and is not possible in reality


variants: or chiefly British chimaera \ kī-​ˈmir-​ə, kə-​ How to pronounce chimaera (audio) \

Medical Definition of chimera

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on chimera

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with chimera

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for chimera

Spanish Central: Translation of chimera

Nglish: Translation of chimera for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about chimera

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