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 Inspired by the real-life entrepreneurs (and flim-flammers) extraordinaire Addison and Wilson Mizner, the show is a country-crossing map of fortunes lost and made, in which unbounded success always looms as a tantalizing chimera. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Now You Know: A Critic’s Guide to Sondheim," 12 Mar. 2020 Sanofi’s approach involves taking some of the coronavirus’s DNA and mixing it with genetic material from a harmless virus, creating a chimera that can prime the immune system without making patients sick. Damian Garde, STAT, "A detailed guide to the coronavirus drugs and vaccines in development," 2 Mar. 2020 On human-pig chimeras Why please sir, oh yes sir, take mine! Meghana Keshavan, STAT, "2019 in limericks: The highs and lows from the life sciences," 31 Dec. 2019 After just a week, the chimera pigs (and their eight regular pig siblings) died of unknown causes. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "Two Pigs with Monkey Cells Born in China," 9 Dec. 2019 The second affect is the chimera effect, this is what causes a kind of gravity simulation of gravity neutralization because you are stabilized in 3D space. Laraib Hashmi, Houston Chronicle, "Woodlands resident and doctor creates technology for flying vehicles," 17 Dec. 2019 This chimera was largely achieved through the might of American culture, with Hollywood films, television shows, and music that spread far and wide across the world. Fatima Bhutto, Time, "The End of America's Cultural Hegemony Is Here," 14 Dec. 2019 In real life, chimeras are rare and not quite as dramatic. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "A human chimera shows why DNA evidence is questionable," 7 Dec. 2019 Long had become a chimera, the technical term for the rare person with two sets of DNA., "When a DNA test says you’re a younger man, who lives 5,000 miles away - The Boston Globe," 8 Dec. 2019

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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Last Updated

22 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Chimera.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for chimera


How to pronounce chimera (audio)

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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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for chimera

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with chimera

Spanish Central: Translation of chimera

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

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