Webster 1913 Edition



, from
by chance, rashly; perhaps akin to Skr.
darkness: cf. F.
Unreasonable contempt of danger; extreme venturesomeness; rashness;
as, the
of a commander in war
Syn. – Rashness; precipitancy; heedlessness; venturesomeness.
. These words are closely allied in sense, but have a slight difference in their use and application. Temerity is Latin, and rashness is Anglo-Saxon. As in many such cases, the Latin term is more select and dignified; the Anglo-Saxon more familiar and energetic. We show temerity in hasty decisions, and the conduct to which they lead. We show rashness in particular actions, as dictated by sudden impulse. It is an exhibition of temerity to approach the verge of a precipice; it is an act of rashness to jump into a river without being able to swim. Temerity, then, is an unreasonable contempt of danger; rashness is a rushing into danger from thoughtlessness or excited feeling.
It is notorious
to pass sentence upon grounds uncapable of evidence.
hand in evil hour
Forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked, she eat.

Webster 1828 Edition



[L. temeritas; properly a rushing forward.]
Rashness; unreasonable contempt of danger; as the temerity of a commander in war.
Extreme boldness.
The figures are bold even to temerity.

Definition 2023





temerity (countable and uncountable, plural temerities)

  1. (not countable) Reckless boldness; foolish bravery.
    • 1569, Thomas Pearson, trans., "The Second Paradox," in The booke of Marcus Tullius Cicero entituled Paradoxa Stoicorum, T. Marshe (London),
      Neyther the spightfull temerity and rashnes of variable fortune, nor the envious hart burning and in iurious hatred of mine enemies shold be able once to damnify me.
    • 1837, Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, ch. 17,
      One day when he knew old Lobbs was out, Nathaniel Pipkin had the temerity to kiss his hand to Maria Lobbs.
    • 1886, Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge, ch. 21
      Elizabeth trotted through the open door in the dusk, but becoming alarmed at her own temerity, she went quickly out again by another which stood open in the lofty wall of the back court.
    • 1913, Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Return of Tarzan, ch. 21,
      I am surprised that you, sir, a man of letters yourself, should have the temerity so to interrupt the progress of science.
  2. (countable) An act or case of reckless boldness.
    • 1910, Edith Wharton, "The Blond Beast," Scribner's Magazine, vol. 48 (Sept),
      Draper, dear lad, had the illusion of an "intellectual sympathy" between them.... Draper's temerities would always be of that kind.
  3. (not countable) Effrontery; impudence.
    • 1820, James Fennimore Cooper, Precaution, ch. 30,
      He had very nearly been guilty of the temerity of arrogating to himself another title in the presence of those he most respected.


Related terms



  • temerity” in An American Dictionary of the English Language, by Noah Webster, 1828.
  • temerity in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
  • temerity” in Unabridged, v1.0.1, Lexico Publishing Group, 2006.
  • temerity” in Microsoft's Encarta World English Dictionary, North American Edition (2007)
  • "temerity" in the Wordsmyth Dictionary-Thesaurus (Wordsmyth, 2002)
  • "temerity" in Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary (Cambridge University Press, 2007)
  • temerity” in the Compact Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 2007)
  • Oxford English Dictionary, second edition (1989)
  • Random House Webster's Unabridged Electronic Dictionary (1987-1996)
  • temerity in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
  • temerity at OneLook Dictionary Search