Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



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 her 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 *ǵʰey-. The Latin form has become more common from the sixteenth 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, 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.
    • 1719 April 25, [Daniel Defoe], The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, [], 3rd edition, London: [] W[illiam] Taylor [], published 1719, OCLC 838630407, page 86:
      In the middle of theſe Cogitations, Apprehenſions, and Reflections, it came into my Thought one day, that all this might be a mere Chimera of my own; and that this Foot might be the Print of my own Foot, when I came on Shore from my Boat: This chear'd me up a little too, and I began to perſuade myſelf it was all a Deluſion; that it was nothing elſe but my own Foot; and why might I not come that way from the Boat, as well as I was going that way to the Boat: []
    • 1818, [Mary Shelley], chapter II, in Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. [], volume (please specify |volume=I, II, or III), London: [] [Macdonald and Son] for Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones, OCLC 830979744:
      It was very different, when the masters of the science sought immortality and power; such views, although futile, were grand: but now the scene was changed. The ambition of the inquirer seemed to limit itself to the annihilation of those visions on which my interest in science was chiefly founded. I was required to exchange chimeras of boundless grandeur for realities of little worth.
    • 1841, Charles Dickens, chapter 70, in Barnaby Rudge; a Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty, London: Chapman & Hall, Strand, OCLC 972847362, page 344:
      As to being taken up, himself, for a rioter, and punished with the rest, Mr Dennis dismissed that possibility from his thoughts as an idle chimera; arguing that the line of conduct he had adopted at Newgate, and the service he had rendered that day, would be more than a set-off against any evidence which might identify him as a member of the crowd: []
    • 2009, Amira K. Bennison, The Great Caliphs: The Golden Age of the 'Abbasid Empire, Yale University Press, →ISBN, page 159:
      Although now considered a pseudo-science, the 'Abbasids were also fascinated by alchemy and the chimera of transforming base metals into gold for their treasury.
  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, 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:
      [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, 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.

Alternative forms[edit]



  • (anything composed of very disparate parts): monolith

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 chimera; chimaera, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1889.

Further reading[edit]




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


  • IPA(key): /kiˈmɛ.ra/
  • Rhymes: -ɛra
  • Hyphenation: chi‧mè‧ra


chimera f (plural chimere)

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