nefarious

adjective
ne·far·i·ous | \ni-ˈfer-ē-əs \

Definition of nefarious 

: flagrantly wicked or impious : evil

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Other Words from nefarious

nefariously adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for nefarious

vicious, villainous, iniquitous, nefarious, corrupt, degenerate mean highly reprehensible or offensive in character, nature, or conduct. vicious may directly oppose virtuous in implying moral depravity, or may connote malignancy, cruelty, or destructive violence. a vicious gangster villainous applies to any evil, depraved, or vile conduct or characteristic. a villainous assault iniquitous implies absence of all signs of justice or fairness. an iniquitous system of taxation nefarious suggests flagrant breaching of time-honored laws and traditions of conduct. the nefarious rackets of organized crime corrupt stresses a loss of moral integrity or probity causing betrayal of principle or sworn obligations. city hall was rife with corrupt politicians degenerate suggests having sunk to an especially vicious or enervated condition. a degenerate regime propped up by foreign powers

What Is the Difference Between vicious, villainous, and nefarious?

Vicious and villainous are two wicked synonyms of nefarious, and, like nefarious, both mean "highly reprehensible or offensive in character, nature, or conduct." But these synonyms are not used in exactly the same way in all situations. Vicious may imply moral depravity or it may connote malignancy, cruelty, or destructive violence. Villainous applies to any evil, depraved, or vile conduct or characteristic, while nefarious (which derives from the Latin noun nefas, meaning "crime") suggests flagrant breaching of time-honored laws and traditions of conduct.

Examples of nefarious in a Sentence

Moreover, those starry-eyed states inclined to perceive international relations in moral terms frequently underestimate the nefarious machinations of their competitors on the world political stage. — Richard Wolin, New Republic, 4 June 2001 … I always give the same response: Just because Frank posed for pictures with every leading capo, underboss and cement contractor of the day doesn't mean that he joined them in their nefarious underworld activities. Oh, occasionally he rode along on a hit or two, but that was just one of those social obligations … — Lewis Grossberger, Time, 21 Dec. 1998 Three-tenths of a mile uphill from our mailbox on the road, that bend is so nefarious that neophytes often skidded into a snowbank or wound up fender-deep in mud there. — Maxine Kumin, In Deep, 1987 a nefarious scheme to cheat people out of their money the chaste heroines and nefarious villains of old-time melodramas
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Recent Examples on the Web

One visited New York’s Coney Island and saw a 16-year-old cyclist get drunk on wine provided by a beautiful but nefarious older woman. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "The Wheel, the Woman, and the Human Body," 6 July 2018 But without data and analysis flowing between each point of the triangle, DiResta argued, there’s no hope of triumphing over nefarious actors in a disinformation arms race. Rachel Gutman, The Atlantic, "Can Sacrificing Privacy Stomp Out Disinformation Online?," 29 June 2018 Both skills can be used for productive or for nefarious reasons. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Why the Girl Scouts Are Learning to Pick Locks and Hack Computers," 28 June 2018 The Trumposphere has attempted to paint the work of Halper as a nefarious plot of an Obama spy embedded in the deepest reaches of the Trump campaign. Cristian Farias, Daily Intelligencer, "Donald Trump Comes Unglued Amid Growing Pressure From Bob Mueller," 21 May 2018 That is a deeply unfortunate and frankly dangerously embarrassing prospect, because Iran is one of the most nefarious actors on the world stage, playing a destabilizing role across the Middle East. Abigail Tracy, The Hive, "“We’re Paying a Heavy Price”: Senator Ben Cardin Takes on Trump’s “Sledgehammer” Foreign Policy," 14 May 2018 Akecheta explains that the violent memories Maeve has of Ghost Nation are not nearly as nefarious as she and we have been led to believe. Josh Wigler, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Westworld': A Nightmare Becomes Something Beautiful in "Kiksuya"," 10 June 2018 The human impact of Lift’s evil is eventually revealed, but his actions in this particular moment are no more nefarious than the average clueless white tech bro. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Sorry to Bother You Has an Eerily Familiar Villain," 10 July 2018 It shouldn't be interpreted as an assumption that WKU is doing something nefarious. Jeff Greer, The Courier-Journal, "Western Kentucky, Rick Stansbury invite skepticism with new hire," 5 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nefarious.' 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 nefarious

circa 1609, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for nefarious

Latin nefarius, from nefas crime, from ne- not + fas right, divine law; perhaps akin to Greek themis law, tithenai to place — more at do

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Dictionary Entries near nefarious

neeze

nef

nefandous

nefarious

nefariousness

nefast

neffy

Statistics for nefarious

Last Updated

29 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for nefarious

The first known use of nefarious was circa 1609

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More Definitions for nefarious

nefarious

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of nefarious

: evil or immoral

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