chi·​me·​ra kī-ˈmir-ə How to pronounce chimera (audio)
capitalized : a fire-breathing she-monster in Greek mythology having a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail
: an imaginary monster compounded of incongruous parts
: 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.
: 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.

Did you know?

“In head and shoulders, she was like a lion, / in back and tail, a snake, and in the middle, / a she-goat, and she breathed a dreadful blast / of blazing fire.” So did Homer describe the fearsome Chimera in The Iliad (as translated by scholar Emily Wilson in 2023). The Chimera terrorized the people of Lycia until slain by the hero Bellerophon, but the beast lived on in people’s imaginations, and English speakers adopted her name for any monster similarly composed of the parts of different animals. Later, chimera took on another meaning that is common in today’s lexicon: “an illusion of the mind, especially an unrealized dream.” This sense of chimera is often used to refer to a fantasy or delusion.

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 Enlarge / Painting of a gryphon, or griffin, a lion-raptor chimera from ancient folklore. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 25 June 2024 Painting of a griffin, a lion-raptor chimera, alongside the fossils of Protoceratops, a horned dinosaur. Paul Smaglik, Discover Magazine, 25 June 2024 The fact is that the subcommittee has wasted nearly a year and a half chasing a chimera. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 6 June 2024 Artists often portrayed these spirits as fantastic beasts and chimeras in paintings and sculptures. James L. Fitzsimmons, The Conversation, 1 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for chimera 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'chimera.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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


Dictionary Entries Near chimera

Cite this Entry

“Chimera.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


chi·​me·​ra kī-ˈmir-ə How to pronounce chimera (audio)
: something made up by or existing only in the mind

Medical Definition


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

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