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

The idea that people recruit friends is hardly nefarious, yet Labor implies that Oracle’s Asian workers recruit only Asian friends. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Discriminating Against Oracle," 13 Feb. 2019 Both Scott, the current governor of Florida, and Trump have suggested that something nefarious is going on. German Lopez, Vox, "There’s no evidence of voter fraud in Florida. Trump is claiming it’s happening anyway.," 9 Nov. 2018 These hijacks can serve a variety of nefarious purposes. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "How 3ve’s BGP hijackers eluded the Internet—and made $29M," 21 Dec. 2018 Intelligence officials caution about the national security implications of Chinese technology outpacing the US or being used for nefarious ends. Emily Stewart, Vox, "The US government’s ongoing battle with Chinese telecom giant Huawei, explained," 11 Dec. 2018 In a world where photos and even video posted online are often manufactured for nefarious ends, that kind of response is a sign of new-age media literacy. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "The bizarre Justin Bieber burrito incident reminds us not to believe everything online," 29 Oct. 2018 In the past, malware has abused such synthetic clicks to perform a variety of nefarious actions. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Malware has no trouble hiding and bypassing macOS user warnings," 14 Aug. 2018 Mills’s proposed sanctuary is, of course, a smokescreen, and the usual callous paramilitary villains abound, rounding up dinos to be sold for nefarious purposes (Ted Levine plays the nasty-in-chief). David Sims, The Atlantic, "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," 22 June 2018 Perhaps nefarious actions are to blame for thousands of text messages mysteriously lost — and then mysteriously found? Matt Viser, BostonGlobe.com, "Republicans give voice to audacious effort to discredit FBI, Mueller," 29 Jan. 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

17 Feb 2019

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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

formal : evil or immoral

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nefarious

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nefarious

Spanish Central: Translation of nefarious

Nglish: Translation of nefarious for Spanish Speakers

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