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Borrowed from Middle French témérité, from Latin temeritās (chance, accident, rashness), from temerē (by chance, casually, rashly).



temerity (countable and uncountable, plural temerities)

  1. (not countable) Reckless boldness; foolish bravery.
    • 1569, Thomas Pearson, trans., "The Second Paradox," in The booke of Marcus Tullius Cicero entituled Paradoxa Stoicorum, T. Marshe (London),
      Neyther the spightfull temerity and rashnes of variable fortune, nor the envious hart burning and in iurious hatred of mine enemies shold be able once to damnify me.
    • 1837, Charles Dickens, chapter 17, in The Pickwick Papers:
      One day when he knew old Lobbs was out, Nathaniel Pipkin had the temerity to kiss his hand to Maria Lobbs.
    • 1886, Thomas Hardy, chapter 21, in The Mayor of Casterbridge:
      Elizabeth trotted through the open door in the dusk, but becoming alarmed at her own temerity, she went quickly out again by another which stood open in the lofty wall of the back court.
    • 1913, Edgar Rice Burroughs, chapter 21, in The Return of Tarzan:
      I am surprised that you, sir, a man of letters yourself, should have the temerity so to interrupt the progress of science.
  2. (countable) An act or case of reckless boldness.
    • 1910, Edith Wharton, "The Blond Beast," Scribner's Magazine, vol. 48 (Sept),
      Draper, dear lad, had the illusion of an "intellectual sympathy" between them.... Draper's temerities would always be of that kind.
  3. (not countable) Effrontery; impudence.
    • 1820, James Fennimore Cooper, chapter 30, in Precaution:
      He had very nearly been guilty of the temerity of arrogating to himself another title in the presence of those he most respected.


Related terms[edit]



  • temerity in An American Dictionary of the English Language, by Noah Webster, 1828.
  • temerity in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
  • temerity” in Dictionary.com Unabridged, Dictionary.com, LLC, 1995–present.
  • temerity” in Microsoft's Encarta World English Dictionary, North American Edition (2007)
  • "temerity" in the Wordsmyth Dictionary-Thesaurus (Wordsmyth, 2002)
  • "temerity" in Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary (Cambridge University Press, 2007)
  • temerity” in the Compact Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 2007)
  • Oxford English Dictionary, second edition (1989)
  • Random House Webster's Unabridged Electronic Dictionary (1987-1996)
  • temerity in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
  • temerity at OneLook Dictionary Search