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A 1590–1610 drawing of a chimera (sense 1) attributed to Jacopo Ligozzi
A chimera (sense 5) or grotesque on The King’s House in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, UK
A chimeric mouse (sense 6; right) and its offspring
A deep-sea chimaera or ghost shark (sense 7; species unidentified) from the Celebes Sea

From Middle English chimere, from French chimère, from Latin chimaera, from Ancient Greek χίμαιρα (khímaira, chimera; female goat), from χίμαρος (khímaros, male goat),[1] from Proto-Indo-European *gʰei-. The Latin form has become more common from the 16th century.[1]



chimera (plural chimeras)

  1. (Greek mythology) Alternative letter-case form of Chimera (a flame-spewing monster often represented as having two heads, one of a goat and the other of a lion; the body of a goat; and a serpent as a tail).
  2. (mythology) Any fantastic creature with parts from different animals.
    • 1853, “the O’Hara Family” [pseudonym; John Banim], chapter XV, in The Nowlans, London: Simms and M‛Intyre, Paternoster Row; and Donegall Street, Belfast, OCLC 57402740, page 142:
      A voice had called him forth to think in solitude—a voice he durst not resist, the awful one of the future. It fell on John's heart like the mutter of approaching desolation. He heard it coming on, as the spell-bound in a hideous dream await, wordless and shivering, the progress of some chimera monster, whose grasp is to crush and destroy.
    • 2014, Abolala Soudavar, “Appendix II – From the Avesta to Sufi Treatises: A Standard Literary Technique”, in Mithraic Societies: From Brotherhood Ideal to Religion’s Adversary, Houston, Tx.: Abolala Soudavar, ISBN 978-1-312-10598-0, page 359:
      The Magophonia was essentially the eruption of a long-simmering animosity between the pārsās (who revered Ahura Mazdā) and the Median magi (who believed in the supremacy of Mithra and Apam Napāt). A vivid expression of this animosity is displayed on the door jambs of Persepolis, where Darius is killing with a dagger a chimera monster with a scorpion tail.
  3. Anything composed of very disparate parts.
    The car which he built himself was a real chimera: half Volkswagen and half Porsche.
    • 2016 November 17, Gill Harris, “All about: Running Away with the Circus – Trans-Siberian March Band”, in Swindon Advertiser[1], England: Newsquest Media Group, OCLC 836787738, archived from the original on 18 November 2016:
      Throughout 12 tracks the ear is treated to a musical chimera where folk frolics and gypsy jaunts fight with klezmeric machinations and Slavic ska to form a brass infused Ottoman folk-punk or it might just be the sound of Bellowhead working as the house band in an Armenian brothel.
  4. A foolish, incongruous, or vain thought or product of the imagination.
  5. (architecture) A grotesque like a gargoyle, but without a spout for rainwater.
    • 2016, Thomas A. Fudgé, “Gargoyles and Glimpses of Forgotten Worlds”, in Medieval Religion and Its Anxieties: History and Mystery in the Other Middle Ages (The New Middle Ages), New York, N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan, DOI:10.1057/978-1-137-56610-2, ISBN 978-1-137-57077-2, page 91:
      A chimera is essentially a hybrid animal made up of various animal parts. The famous parapet chimeras on the north tower of Notre Dame in Paris, especially the brooding double-horned fellow with protruding tongue on the west parapet originally assumed to relate to a thirteenth-century model, are classic examples.
  6. (genetics) An organism with genetically distinct cells originating from two or more zygotes.
    • 2014, David A[lan] Grimes; Linda G. Brandon, “Miscarriage: The Healthy Winnowing of Pregnancy”, in Every Third Woman in America: How Legal Abortion Transformed Our Nation, Carolina Beach, N.C.: Daymark Publishing, ISBN 978-0-9908336-0-4:
      [P]reembryo cells from different parents can combine and grow into a chimera (an individual with cells from two or more zygotes)—in this case, an entity containing genetic material from four parents! Spontaneous chimeras [] occur rarely in our species. Recent examples include a woman who resulted from the merger of two zygotes or the early fusion of two genetically distinct embryos.
  7. Usually chimaera: a cartilaginous marine fish in the subclass Holocephali and especially the order Chimaeriformes, with a blunt snout, long tail, and a spine before the first dorsal fin.
    • 2012, Harold M. Tyus, “Diversity 1: Chordates to Sharks”, in Ecology and Conservation of Fishes, Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, ISBN 978-1-4398-5854-7, pages 34–35:
      The chimeras [] are an extant group of about 30 species. They have the upper jaw fused with the cranium and a gill cover over the four gill slits. They also have toothy plates that give them a ratlike appearance, thus the common name "ratfish." The group occurs in ocean depths worldwide, where they mainly feed on invertebrates.

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From Latin chimaera, from Ancient Greek Χίμαιρα (Khímaira).


chimera f (plural chimere)

  1. chimera
  2. chimera, a kind of shark of the genus Chimaera