from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Excessive boldness or rashness; foolhardiness or recklessness.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Extreme venturesomeness; rashness; recklessness.
  • noun Synonyms Rashness, Temerity (see rashness); venturesomeness, presumption, foolhardiness.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Unreasonable contempt of danger; extreme venturesomeness; rashness.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun not countable Reckless boldness; foolish bravery.
  • noun countable An act or case of reckless boldness.
  • noun not countable Effrontery; impudence.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun fearless daring


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English temerite, from Old French, from Latin temeritās, from temere, rashly.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin temeritās ("chance, accident, rashness"), from temerē ("by chance, casually, rashly").


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word temerity.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Temerity n. excessive confidence or boldness; audacity.

    Implies exposing oneself needlessly to danger while failing to estimate one's chances of success.

    ORIGIN late Middle English : from Latin temeritas, from temere ‘rashly.’

    He didn't know that in some places, like the country that Rahel came form, various kinds of despair competed for primacy. And that personal despair could never be desperate enough. That something happened when personal turmoil dropped by at the wayside shrine of the vast, violent, circling, driving, ridiculous, insane, unfeasible public turmoil of a nation. That Big God howled like a hot wind, and demanded obeisance. Then Small God (cozy and contained, private and limited) came away cauterized, laughing numbly at his own temerity" (Roy 20)

    Roy, Arundhati. The God of Small Things. New York: HarperCollins, 1997.

    February 26, 2008

  • Word History: Today's Good Word is a burnishing of 15th century French témérité, inherited from Latin temeritas "happenstance, accident, at random", a noun derived from the adverb temere "by chance, accidentally". "Blindly" or "in the dark" are other fitting translations of this word because it comes from a Proto-Indo-European word, temes- "dark". We find relatives in Sanskrit tamas- "darkness" and Russian t'ma "darkness" and tëmnyi "dark".

    Dr. Goodword,

    November 30, 2009

  • Stan raised his light eyebrows at my temerity. -Charlaine Harris, Living Dead in Dallas

    December 11, 2010

  • This word was used in "To Kill A Mockingbird" when Atticus was defending Mr. Robinson at his trial.

    June 20, 2012

  • Temerity is used in Chapter XXII of "The Return of Dr Fu-Manchu by Sax Rohmer.

    March 3, 2015

  • No child has the temerity to go in the rundown house at the end of the street and see if it is haunted.

    October 29, 2017