ne·​far·​i·​ous | \ ni-ˈfer-ē-əs How to pronounce nefarious (audio) \

Definition of nefarious

: flagrantly wicked or impious : evil

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?

Nefarious comes from the Latin adjective nefarius and the Latin noun nefas, which means "crime." Nefas is a combination of ne- ("not") and fas, meaning "right" or "divine law."

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
Recent Examples on the Web Ravnsborg’s defense attorney contended that the attorney general had done nothing nefarious. Stephen Groves, Chicago Tribune, 22 June 2022 Ravnsborg's defense attorney contended that the attorney general had done nothing nefarious and instead had cooperated fully with the crash investigation. CBS News, 22 June 2022 Despite his courageous decision to testify against a sitting president, the series does not give Dean a free pass for his role in the Nixon administration’s nefarious activities. Stephen Battagliostaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 1 June 2022 The nefarious activities run the gamut, but the top complaints include the illicit use of cryptocurrency, ransomware and business email compromise schemes. Mark Roberts, Forbes, 16 May 2022 The dark money fueling U.S. hedge funds are equally nefarious. Michael Taylor, San Antonio Express-News, 27 Apr. 2022 The Biden administration has called on Congress to expand authority for federal and local governments to take action to counter these and other nefarious uses of drones, which are a growing security concern and nuisance. Chron, 13 July 2022 The Saudis want security guarantees; Israel desires assurances that the US plans to help them stop Iran from going nuclear and spreading its nefarious influence in the region. Aaron David Miller, CNN, 10 July 2022 While not quite as nefarious sounding as the real life blocking or memory recall of a Black Mirror episode, this is indeed a look at what the future may hold for whisky consumers. Jonah Flicker, Robb Report, 6 July 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of nefarious was circa 1609

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Last Updated

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Nefarious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of nefarious for Spanish Speakers


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