Definition of chimera in English:


(also chimaera)


  • 1(in Greek mythology) a fire-breathing female monster with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail.

    • ‘In the myth, it was Bellerophon, straddling the winged horse Pegasus, who finally slew the fire-breathing chimera.’
    • ‘If we were to engineer a genuine goat/snake/lion chimera (complete with firebreathing ability) would it be in pain, or unhappy?’
    • ‘She notes that in Greek mythology, that third was known as a chimera.’
    • ‘In Greek mythology, the chimera was a fire-breathing monster that combined the parts of a goat, a lion and a serpent.’
    • ‘Green ones with crosses, orange ones with lions and chimeras, all seemed to glow with pride in the high sun.’
    1. 1.1 Any mythical animal formed from parts of various animals.
      • ‘‘The way was guarded by lions and chimeras and manticores and logicians and other ferocious beasts,’ says Giblets.’
      • ‘And every cell in the chimera's body could be from either one species or the other.’
      • ‘She knew that a chimera was a person or animal fused with other creatures.’
      • ‘As far as I know, a chimera is a mythological monster comprising the parts of various different animals.’
      • ‘They typically demand some bizarre chimera: a part goat, part rooster sort of monster appropriate to a medieval bestiary or science fiction.’
  • 2A thing which is hoped for but is illusory or impossible to achieve.

    ‘the economic sovereignty you claim to defend is a chimera’
    • ‘Do you not know how idiotic the chimeras are, Kirei?’
    • ‘Rationality in science is sometimes a chimera, and the border between magic and science is easily crossed; it depends on attitude, information available, and context.’
    • ‘As all three books make abundantly clear, nobody nowadays believes in that old chimera, ‘objective’ or ‘scientific’ history.’
    • ‘Achieving a bipartisan consensus on pensions is not an unachievable chimera.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, many critics of the Times are conflating this notion of journalistic execution with the chimera of total journalistic objectivity.’
    • ‘Moreover, academic freedom is an Enlightenment chimera and autonomy is a secular principle, not a Christian virtue.’
    • ‘What kind of subjectivity can we assign to these chimeras, these fictions of a hopeful science?’
    • ‘He's now got a month and a half to create some convincing chimera that the American people can invest with their hopes and dreams.’
    • ‘Definitive truth is a chimera that does not belong to science after all.’
    • ‘Professionals invariably dominate such bodies, making consensus a chimera.’
    • ‘Perhaps, to paraphrase Iver Neumann, it is neither digitality nor diaspora but our uses of them - much like our uses of the other - that offer a chimera of hope.’
    • ‘The key problem for both scholars is the illusion, a chimera, that the Bible has what could be realistically described as a middle, or even a central theme.’
    • ‘As a young man, he ‘crossed the square’ from a life of student radicalism to journalism - only to discover the news in his totalitarian state was less real than the chimeras of philosophy.’
    • ‘Likewise one may call the price index a ‘statistical illusion’ based on the chimera of a fixed basket of products as the unit of measurement.’
    • ‘As Colin Gunton observes, ‘The biblical message, in the sense of a finally adequate or even provisionally complete account of biblical teaching, is a chimera.’’
    illusion, fantasy, delusion, dream, fancy, figment of the imagination, will-o'-the-wisp, phantom, mirage
    View synonyms
  • 3Biology
    An organism containing a mixture of genetically different tissues, formed by processes such as fusion of early embryos, grafting, or mutation.

    ‘the sheeplike goat chimera’
    • ‘But calling this mouse a ‘chimera’ is misleading - the term should be reserved for true genetically engineered chimeras.’
    • ‘You see stem cells facilitate the production of organisms called interspecies chimeras, that is living quilts of human and animal tissues.’
    • ‘Perhaps his most elegant experiment was to make aggregation chimeras of embryos from high, control, and low lines.’
    • ‘Biologists call these hybrid animals chimeras, after the mythical Greek creature with a lion's head, a goat's body and a serpent's tail.’
    • ‘Scientists can create animals with the cells of other species, but are these chimeras medical marvels or high-tech monsters?’
    1. 3.1 A DNA molecule with sequences derived from two or more different organisms, formed by laboratory manipulation.
      • ‘Therefore, this gene is a chimera consisting of the first exon of CG11779 and the second and third exons of Adh.’
      • ‘In all, the germline chimeras derived from these five cell lines sired 326 progeny in matings to B6 females, but no deletion-bearing offspring were observed.’
      • ‘After construction of the chimeras by overlapping PCR, all of the chimeric genes were cloned into integrating vectors under control of the SEC9 or the SPO20 promoter.’
      • ‘Spontaneous SOS gene expression was measured in strain GY7109 recA carrying plasmids with different recAX chimeras.’
      • ‘Banning gene patents and chimeras won't save a single human life.’
  • 4A cartilaginous marine fish with a long tail, an erect spine before the first dorsal fin, and typically a forward projection from the snout.

    • ‘The feature was previously unknown in sharks and other chondrichthyans, an order of fish whose modern descendants include sharks, skates, rays, and chimaeras.’
    • ‘Like those distant relatives, chimaeras have skeletons of cartilage, not bone.’
    • ‘In the living chimaeras, Callorhinchus and Chimaera, the authors were able to show the persisting boundaries between the individual teeth.’
    • ‘The group is divided into two very different subclasses, which separated very early on: the Elasmobranchii (sharks, skates and rays) and the Holocephali (the chimaeras, such as the ratfish and elephant fish).’


Late Middle English: via Latin from Greek khimaira ‘she-goat or chimera’.