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nefarious

[ni-fair-ee-uh s]
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adjective
  1. extremely wicked or villainous; iniquitous: a nefarious plot.
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Origin of nefarious

1595–1605; < Latin nefārius wicked, vile, equivalent to nefās offense against divine or moral law (ne- negative prefix + fās law, right) + -ius -ious, with intervocalic s > r
Related formsne·far·i·ous·ly, adverbne·far·i·ous·ness, nounun·ne·far·i·ous, adjectiveun·ne·far·i·ous·ly, adverbun·ne·far·i·ous·ness, noun

Synonyms

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flagitious, heinous, infamous; vile, atrocious, execrable.

Antonyms

good, honest.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for nefarious

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Nay, they are neither; but, nevertheless, their errand is a nefarious one.

  • They were probably out on the trail pursuing their nefarious calling.

  • Might she not be the tool, consciously or unconsciously, of a nefarious plot?

    The Crevice

    William John Burns and Isabel Ostrander

  • It is the duty of patriotic Swedes to thwart this nefarious project.

    England and Germany

    Emile Joseph Dillon

  • Let us see then if you'll dare to persist in this nefarious scheme.

    Arthur O'Leary

    Charles James Lever


British Dictionary definitions for nefarious

nefarious

adjective
  1. evil; wicked; sinful
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Derived Formsnefariously, adverbnefariousness, noun

Word Origin

C17: from Latin nefārius, from nefās unlawful deed, from not + fās divine law
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for nefarious

adj.

c.1600, from Latin nefarius "wicked, abominable, impious," from nefas "crime, wrong, impiety," from ne- "not" (see un-) + fas "right, lawful, divinely spoken," related to fari "to speak" (see fame (n.)). Related: Nefariously.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper