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

In 1893, Conan Doyle tried to kill off Holmes, sending him over the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland in a fatal struggle with his arch-nemesis, Moriarty. Margaret Gray,, "Review: In ‘Mysterious Circumstances’ at the Geffen, the case of the Sherlock superfan," 21 June 2019 Before the leviathan was dragged to shore, before it was found floating at sea trailing a slick of blood, the massive creature had had its run-ins with its greatest nemesis: human beings. David Abel,, "As right whales surge north, one death too many," 15 June 2019 Tite's next job is to psychologically prepare Brazil for a match with their 2014 semi-final nemesis Germany. James Ellingworth,, "Brazil upend Russia in first match without Neymar," 23 Mar. 2018 Liverpool will play fierce rivals United for the first time at Old Trafford in October, with a first game against new nemesis Manchester City coming a few weeks later at Anfield., "Liverpool 2019/20 Premier League Fixtures: When Reds Play Man Utd, Man City, Everton & More," 13 June 2019 Last night literally standing in front of the White House, leading a sing-along protest against her arch nemesis. Fox News, "Sekulow: Trump will decide whether he sits down with Mueller," 8 Aug. 2018 There’s vendors doling out the team’s legendary Dodger Dogs, kids munching on some of the aforementioned snacks, and the team’s arch nemesis, the San Diego Padres, filing into the visitor’s dugout. Rob Ledonne, Billboard, "Dodgers Organist Dieter Ruehle Tells the Story Behind His Dream Job," 7 June 2018 In an upcoming Season 3 episode, the Miamian will be playing Mirtha, the younger sister (and arch nemesis) of Lydia, played by Rita Moreno. Madeleine Marr And Johanna A. Alvarez, miamiherald, "Gloria Estefan is making a move in her career. And it has nothing to do with singing.," 25 June 2018 Cable pops onto the scene as the kid’s nemesis, and as a lumbering, square-jawed compendium of knowing clichés. New York Times, "Review: ‘Deadpool 2’ Has More Swearing, Slicing and Dicing from Ryan Reynolds," 14 May 2018

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

7 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for nemesis

The first known use of nemesis was in 1561

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English Language Learners Definition of nemesis

: an opponent or enemy that is very difficult to defeat

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Comments on nemesis

What made you want to look up nemesis? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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