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[nem-uh-sis] /ˈnɛm ə sɪs/
noun, plural nemeses
[nem-uh-seez] /ˈnɛm əˌsiz/ (Show IPA)
something that a person cannot conquer, achieve, etc.:
The performance test proved to be my nemesis.
an opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
(initial capital letter) Classical Mythology. the goddess of divine retribution.
an agent or act of retribution or punishment.
Origin of nemesis
< Latin < Greek némesis literally, a dealing out, verbid of némein to dispense (justice); see -sis
1. Waterloo. 4. downfall, undoing, ruin, Waterloo. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for nemeses


noun (pl) -ses (-ˌsiːz)
(Greek myth) the goddess of retribution and vengeance
(sometimes not capital) any agency of retribution and vengeance
Word Origin
C16: via Latin from Greek: righteous wrath, from némein to distribute what is due
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
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Word Origin and History for nemeses


1570s, Nemesis, "Greek goddess of vengeance, personification of divine wrath," from Greek nemesis "just indignation, righteous anger," literally "distribution" (of what is due), related to nemein "distribute, allot, apportion one's due," from PIE root *nem- "to divide, distribute, allot, to take" (cf. Old English, Gothic niman "to take," German nehmen; see nimble). With a lower-case -n-, in the sense of "retributive justice," attested from 1590s. General sense of "anything by which it seems one must be defeated" is 20c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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nemeses in Culture
Nemesis [(nem-uh-sis)]

In classical mythology, the Greek goddess of vengeance.

Note: By extension, a “nemesis” is an avenger. One's nemesis is that which will bring on one's destruction or downfall.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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