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

Or perhaps something more nefarious, like a criminal looking to launder money gained through illicit means? Mike Rosenberg, The Seattle Times, "King County’s secret all-cash homebuyers must reveal true identity to law enforcement," 20 Nov. 2018 That fact is both seemingly nefarious and oddly convenient. Elizabeth Kiefer, Glamour, "Instagram Made Me Buy It," 20 Sep. 2018 Sometimes, in fact, the history of the philosophy is actually quite nefarious. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "Why Do People Think the Number 13 Is Unlucky? Let's Talk About Triskaidekaphobia," 29 Aug. 2018 Usually there’s some sort of nefarious actor who’s controlling these networks behind the scenes. Recode Staff, Recode, "How bots amplify hoaxes and propaganda on social media," 2 Aug. 2018 Mactaggart said the initiative is a response to the rapid amassing of people's data, which has been coupled with computer processing power and algorithms for nefarious purposes, such as Cambridge Analytica's use of Facebook data. Author: Stuart Leavenworth, Anchorage Daily News, "DNA testing is like the 'Wild West.' Should it be more tightly regulated?," 9 June 2018 Two weeks ago, officials in the private and public sectors warned that hackers working for the Russian government infected more than 500,000 consumer-grade routers in 54 countries with malware that could be used for a range of nefarious purposes. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "VPNFilter malware infecting 500,000 devices is worse than we thought," 6 June 2018 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

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

8 Dec 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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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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