chi·​me·​ra kī-ˈmir-ə How to pronounce chimera (audio)
capitalized : a fire-breathing she-monster in Greek mythology having a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail
: an imaginary monster compounded of incongruous parts
: an illusion or fabrication of the mind
especially : an unrealizable dream
a fancy, a chimera in my brain, troubles me in my prayer John Donne
His utopia was a chimera.
: an individual, organ, or part consisting of tissues of diverse genetic constitution
A hybrid created through fusion of a sperm and an egg from different species is a chimera.

Did you know?

In Greek mythology, the Chimera was a fearsome, fire-breathing monster with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a dragon's tail. She terrorized the people of Lycia until their king, Iobates, asked the hero Bellerophon to slay her. Iobates had an ulterior motive; his son-in-law wanted Bellerophon killed and the king was sure the Chimera would do the job. But Bellerophon called in Pegasus, the winged horse, and brought the Chimera down from above. The beast lived on in people's imaginations, and English speakers adopted her name for any similarly grotesque monster, or, later, for anything fanciful.

Examples of chimera in a Sentence

Economic stability in that country is a chimera. a monster in the closet would not have been the first chimera that the boy had seen in his mind's eye
Recent Examples on the Web Now, here was somebody from a land on the other side of the world submitting a new take on the legendary chimera, an animal composed of distinct parts of other animals. Stephen C. George, Discover Magazine, 29 Aug. 2023 Then there are the men who pursue more fanciful chimeras, the imagi-makers whose visions helped to give L.A. its reputation as a place where quirky notions can find fertile purchase. Patt Morrison, Los Angeles Times, 3 Aug. 2023 But many others are a chimera — a product of tricky accounting and valuations. Jeff Sommer, New York Times, 4 Aug. 2023 The fidelity of the financial statements of the Company have been rendered a chimera by virtue of these transactions. Patrick Frater, Variety, 25 July 2023 Prioritizing diplomacy with functioning states to achieve specific American objectives on oil, counterterrorism, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and nuclear nonproliferation makes much more sense than chasing after chimeras such as state building, regime change, and the spread of democracy. F. Gregory Gause Iii, Foreign Affairs, 22 Feb. 2022 Much of the explosive evolutionary radiation in this period occurred among the group that includes chimeras or ghost sharks. Joshua Rapp Learn, Discover Magazine, 1 Apr. 2023 This massive and imposed technological infusion will be seen as a chimera. Stephen Pastis, Fortune, 1 July 2023 The successive extinctions reduced numbers and diversity greatly, but in the subsequent Carboniferous period, shark diversity continues to be dominated by early chimeras and side branches of the chimeras. Joshua Rapp Learn, Discover Magazine, 1 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'chimera.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin chimaera, from Greek chimaira she-goat, chimera; akin to Old Norse gymbr yearling ewe, Greek cheimōn winter — more at hibernate

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of chimera was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near chimera

Cite this Entry

“Chimera.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


chi·​me·​ra kī-ˈmir-ə How to pronounce chimera (audio)
capitalized : a fire-breathing female monster in Greek mythology with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail
: something made up by or existing only in the mind

Medical Definition


variants or chiefly British chimaera
: an individual, organ, or part containing tissue with two or more genetically distinct populations of cells

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