te·​mer·​i·​ty | \ tə-ˈmer-ə-tē How to pronounce temerity (audio) \
plural temerities

Definition of temerity

1 : unreasonable or foolhardy contempt of danger or opposition : rashness, recklessness
2 : a rash or reckless act

Choose the Right Synonym for temerity

temerity, audacity, hardihood, effrontery, nerve, cheek, gall, chutzpah mean conspicuous or flagrant boldness. temerity suggests boldness arising from rashness and contempt of danger. had the temerity to refuse audacity implies a disregard of restraints commonly imposed by convention or prudence. an entrepreneur with audacity and vision hardihood suggests firmness in daring and defiance. admired for her hardihood effrontery implies shameless, insolent disregard of propriety or courtesy. outraged at his effrontery nerve, cheek, gall, and chutzpah are informal equivalents for effrontery. the nerve of that guy has the cheek to call herself a singer had the gall to demand proof the chutzpah needed for a career in show business

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When it comes to flagrant boldness, temerity, audacity, hardihood, and effrontery have the cheek to get your meaning across. Of those synonyms, temerity (from the Latin temere, meaning "blindly" or "recklessly") suggests boldness arising from contempt of danger, while audacity implies a disregard of the restraints commonly imposed by convention or prudence. Hardihood implies firmness in daring and defiance, and effrontery suggests a shameless disregard of propriety and courtesy. If you're looking for a more informal term for a brash attitude, you might consider nerve, cheek, gall, or chutzpah.

Examples of temerity in a Sentence

He defeated giant corporations—the auto industry, big pharma—back when no one else was even trying to; he had the temerity to believe that fighting for safety and quality and transparency was a quintessentially American thing to do. — Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly, 16 Feb. 2007 A wisp of a kid (six feet, 160 pounds) with the temerity to buzz pitches up and in to Barry Bonds, Hudson has a bit of Pedro in him. ESPN, 24 July 2000 … all the while you're balancing your two prevailing interests: recording her words to later use against her—because, she, too, had the temerity to be relatively famous and attractive (with a master's from Penn)—while also, more pressingly, trying to get invited back to her apartment. — Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, 2000 He was punished for his temerity. she had the temerity to ask my boyfriend if she could go out with him should he and I ever break up
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Recent Examples on the Web Yellowjackets turns its gimlet gaze on the true-crime industrial complex, on the narrative conveniences of the trauma plot, on a culture that looks down on women who have the temerity to age out of girlhood. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, 14 Jan. 2022 Talk is cheap, and therefore this year’s award goes to the retailer that had the temerity to make a move, to stand by the decision, and to put an idea into market in a novel way that will likely pay dividends over time. Chris Walton, Forbes, 27 Dec. 2021 Fox News last January fired longtime political analyst Chris Stirewalt, who showed the temerity to mock the former president’s absurd claims of electoral fraud. Washington Post, 9 Dec. 2021 Gough even had the temerity to compare Black civil rights activists to the heads of organized crime. Washington Post, 23 Nov. 2021 Point guard Kyle Lowry, in fact, noticed that, when first shown the postgame box score, laughing that Tucker had the temerity to take that many shots. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, 14 Nov. 2021 Gregory Bull/Associated Press Only one agent, Scott Boras, possesses the temerity to call a news conference at the GM meetings. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 13 Nov. 2021 Worst of all, his dancer girlfriend, Susan (Alexandra Shipp), has the temerity to be weighing a career opportunity of her own at the same time, forcing them to make a difficult decision. Los Angeles Times, 12 Nov. 2021 Matzek had the temerity to give up a bloop single on a ball left fielder Eddie Rosario probably should have caught; Smith yielded a seeing-eye single to a di–minished Alex Bregman in the ninth. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 31 Oct. 2021

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for temerity

Middle English temeryte, borrowed from Latin temeritāt- temeritās, from temere "blindly, recklessly, haphazardly" + -itāt- -itās -ity; temere going back to adverbialized locative singular of a noun *temes- "darkness," going back to Indo-European *temH-es-, whence also Sanskrit tamas- "darkness, gloom," Avestan tǝmah-, and, from the base *temH-, Lithuanian témsta, témti "to become dark," tamsà "darkness," tim͂sras "dark red (of a horse), sorrel," Old Church Slavic tĭma "darkness," tĭmĭnŭ "dark, gloomy," and from a *-ro- adjectival derivative Sanskrit tamra- "darkening, oppressive," Germanic *þemra- "darkness," whence Old High German demar "dusk, twilight"

Note: See also tenebrae.

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Last Updated

21 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Temerity.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/temerity. Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for temerity



English Language Learners Definition of temerity

: the quality of being confident and unafraid of danger or punishment especially in a way that seems rude or foolish

More from Merriam-Webster on temerity

Nglish: Translation of temerity for Spanish Speakers


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