nefarious was our Word of the Day on 09/20/2016. Hear the podcast!
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
Did You Know?
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.
Origin and Etymology of 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
First Known Use: circa 1609
Synonym Discussion of nefarious
NEFARIOUS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of nefarious for English Language Learners
: evil or immoral
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