nemesis

noun
nem·​e·​sis | \ ˈne-mə-səs How to pronounce nemesis (audio) \

Definition of nemesis

1 capitalized : the Greek goddess of retributive justice

2 plural nemeses\ ˈne-​mə-​ˌsēz How to pronounce nemeses (audio) \

a : one that inflicts retribution or vengeance Many a pursued man fell before his nemesis in the streets …— Agnes Morely Cleaveland
b : a formidable and usually victorious rival or opponent The team was defeated by its old nemesis.

3 plural nemeses

a : an act or effect of retribution … pursue them with the nemesis of outraged humanity.— Donald Culross Peattie
b : bane sense 2 A nemesis of humankind since the first hand slapped the first cheek, mosquitoes have bitten their way into the American experience …— Jack Cox

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Nemesis and Greek Mythology

Nemesis was the Greek goddess of vengeance, a deity who doled out rewards for noble acts and punishment for evil ones. The Greeks believed that Nemesis didn't always punish an offender immediately but might wait generations to avenge a crime. In English, nemesis originally referred to someone who brought a just retribution, but nowadays people are more likely to see animosity than justice in the actions of a nemesis.

Examples of nemesis in a Sentence

On just the kind of putt that had been a career-long nemesis, he kept his head perfectly still and knocked the ball squarely in the hole. — Jaime Diaz, Sports Illustrated, 20 Feb. 1995 Japan and Iraq have been floated as possible successors for the role once filled by Amercia's old nemesis, the Soviet Union … — Michiko Kakutani, New York Times, 18 June 1993 In the beginning were the words, winged at first until, paralysed, they fell to earth and were imprisoned by their nemesis, the alphabet. — Erich Segal, Times Literary Supplement, 12 July 1991 Thus, once surgeons implant the new graft, tissue rejection—the unforgiving nemesis of most transplant attempts—occurs in only 3% to 5% of cases. — Christine Gorman et al., Time, 7 Dec. 1987 He will be playing his old nemesis for the championship. Batman is the Joker's main nemesis and always foils his wicked plots.
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Recent Examples on the Web

According to Deadline, Tati Gabrielle will play Prudence, Sabrina's arch-nemesis in the show. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Everything You Need to Know," 13 Aug. 2018 There’s one other small hitch: Ericka is no mere cruise captain, but the great-granddaughter of Dracula’s arch-nemesis, famed vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing. Barbara Vandenburgh, azcentral, "Monsters go on vacation in 'Hotel Transylvania 3'," 12 July 2018 According to The Hollywood Reporter, the standalone film was picked up by Warner Bros. and will begin filming in New York this September with Phoenix playing Batman's arch-nemesis. Mariah Haas, Fox News, "Joaquin Phoenix officially set to star as The Joker in new origin movie," 10 July 2018 As his arch-nemesis, Harold, a heavily made-up Mr. Quinto, registers as an inhuman visitor from another planet, an effect that sometimes happens when handsome actors play ugly. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: Jim Parsons and Zachary Quinto Enter Sniping in ‘The Boys in the Band’," 31 May 2018 Moore told Trump-nemesis Stephen Colbert about the current state of the union. Anita Bennett, Fortune, "Michael Moore's Anti-Trump Documentary Has a Pre-Election Day Release Date," 29 June 2018 Now, Mahomes gets his first chance when the first-year starter leads the AFC West champions against the Colts — their longtime playoff nemesis — on Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium. Dave Skretta, The Seattle Times, "Chiefs’ Mahomes ready for postseason debut against Colts," 7 Jan. 2019 The nemeses challenge each other to a design contest, and are surprised to find some lessons in love hidden in the floorboards (had to). Megan Stein, Country Living, "Hallmark's Spring Fever Lineup Is Here to Make Winter Less Miserable," 6 Mar. 2019 One of said older girls is Tracy, 31, Demi’s brunette nemesis, a woman Demi appears to pity simply for being, well, 31. Courtney Lund, Marie Claire, "ABC's 'The Bachelor' Has Never Felt More Openly Ageist Than Right Now," 23 Jan. 2019

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

1561, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nemesis

borrowed from Latin, borrowed from Greek némesis "retribution, righteous anger, blame," probably derivative (with -esis, analogically extended form of -sis, -tis, suffix of action nouns) of némein "to apportion, distribute" — more at nimble

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Statistics for nemesis

Last Updated

12 May 2019

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Time Traveler for nemesis

The first known use of nemesis was in 1561

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More Definitions for nemesis

nemesis

noun

English Language Learners Definition of nemesis

: an opponent or enemy that is very difficult to defeat

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