Merriam Webster Word of the Day: Temerity

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is temerity. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Temerity is a formal word that means “unreasonable or foolhardy contempt of danger or opposition”; it is a synonym of both rashness and recklessnessTemerity can also refer to a rash or reckless act.

// The line between boldness and temerity is sometimes only evident after the consequences have become clear.

// The previous night’s temerity had landed the students in detention.

TEMERITY in Context

“As Jackson sauntered during the ensuing break in play, his chin up defiantly and jaw clenched, James did a double-take at the apparent temerity, his next-play focus transforming into disapproval.” — Houston Mitchell, The Los Angeles Times, 4 Mar. 2022

Did You Know?

When you’re feeling saucy, there’s no shortage of words in the English language you can use to describe the particular flavor of your metaphorical sauce, from audacity and effrontery to the Yiddish-derived fan favorite chutzpah. If we may be so bold, let us also suggest temerity: it comes from the Latin temere, meaning “recklessly” or “haphazardly,” and is good for suggesting boldness even in the face of danger or likely punishment. Temerity is a formal word, rarely used in casual writing or conversation, but provided you have the cheek to flout this convention, you may be thinking “what have I got to lose?”

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