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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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 Their chaotic chimera of high camp, raw tape and synthesizer noise, nasty guitar rock and rampant saxophones was a critical success, even hitting No. 10 on the U.K. charts. Spin Staff, SPIN, 22 Apr. 2022 This redwood has two kinds of DNA, albino and regular, a rare genetic constitution that qualifies it as a chimera. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, 24 July 2014 The White House and Pelosi, though, did not know the key position that left them chasing a chimera through the summer and into the fall, as Biden's poll numbers dropped and the Virginia governor's race slipped away. Manu Raju, CNN, 2 Feb. 2022 In this case the beast was an elephant, not an indeterminate Dutch chimera, and a god floated through the sky in a golden vehicle, extending a helping hand. Hari Kunzru, Harper’s Magazine , 4 Jan. 2022 For many writers of my own generation, this makes Didion an inspiration but also a chimera. Lesley M.m. Blume, Town & Country, 5 Jan. 2022 The guerrillas also demand benefits to communities affected by environmentally damaging industries, but this has mostly been a chimera. Jessica Camille Aguirre, Harper’s Magazine , 7 Dec. 2021 Though chimera cats are rare, chimerism can be hereditary, according to Healthline. Nicholas Rice,, 29 Oct. 2021 This chimera sustains their fit-for-lawyer-purpose paradigm. Mark A. Cohen, Forbes, 8 Sep. 2021 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

6 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Chimera.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for chimera


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

Medical Definition of chimera

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

More from Merriam-Webster on chimera

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


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