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 1 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

Jones recalls epic Celtics-76ers tilts A Celtics nemesis was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday. Gary Washburn, BostonGlobe.com, "Celtics coach Brad Stevens will have plenty of choices with new-look roster," 7 Sep. 2019 But emerging science, especially in western U.S. trout streams, seems to show beavers are less of a nemesis to trout than believed, and maybe even a benefit. John Myers, Twin Cities, "Damming question: Can beaver and trout coexist? ‘We don’t know yet.’," 26 Aug. 2019 And deflation, a nemesis in the Great Depression, makes recovery very difficult. Larry Light, Fortune, "The Global Collapse in Interest Rates May be Setting Investors Up for a Crash," 9 Aug. 2019 British baddie Mark Strong plays a big bald nemesis in this comic take on comic book superhero movies. Sean Axmaker | Stream, oregonlive.com, "Home viewing this week: ‘First Man,’ ‘Shazam!,’ ‘The Princess and the Frog,’ ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee’," 19 July 2019 Prior to joining Chelsea midway through the 2012/13 campaign, Benitez was largely regarded as a nemesis to Jose Mourinho for several years. SI.com, "Rafa Benitez Bizarrely Linked With Chelsea Return as Maurizio Sarri Nears Juventus Switch," 11 June 2019 In the secondary, San Francisco hopes to get a significant boost from the addition of a former nemesis in Richard Sherman. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "49ers training camp questions: How far can Jimmy Garoppolo lead San Francisco as starter?," 3 July 2018 Her nemesis is Kano, an arms dealer and leader of the Black Dragon clan. Nick Romano, EW.com, "Mortal Kombat casts Sonya Blade, Kano, and new mystery lead," 26 Aug. 2019 Except the president’s persistent nemesis is inanimate. Karen Heller, Washington Post, "The story of Donald Trump’s feud with his one true nemesis: Windmills," 15 Aug. 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

17 Sep 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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