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From Old French desmerite (compare French démérite).



demerit (countable and uncountable, plural demerits)

  1. A quality of being inadequate; a fault; a disadvantage
    • (Can we date this quote?) Edmund Burke
      They see no merit or demerit in any man or any action.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Sir W. Temple
      Secure, unless forfeited by any demerit or offense.
  2. A mark given for bad conduct to a person attending an educational institution or serving in the army.
    • 2002, Commencement Address at West Point, by G.W.Bush:
      A few of you have followed in the path of the perfect West Point graduate, Robert E. Lee, who never received a single demerit in four years. Some of you followed in the path of the imperfect graduate, Ulysses S. Grant, who had his fair share of demerits, and said the happiest day of his life was "the day I left West Point." (Laughter.)
  3. That which one merits or deserves, either of good or ill; desert.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Holland
      By many benefits and demerits whereby they obliged their adherents, [they] acquired this reputation.



Derived terms[edit]



demerit (third-person singular simple present demerits, present participle demeriting, simple past and past participle demerited)

  1. (transitive, archaic) To deserve.
    • 1840, Alexander Campbell, Dolphus Skinner, A discussion of the doctrines of the endless misery and universal salvation (page 351)
      You hold that every sin is an infinite evil, demeriting endless punishment.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Nicholas Udall
      If I have demerited any love or thanks.
  2. (transitive, archaic) To depreciate or cry down.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Bishop John Woolton
      Faith by her own dignity and worthiness doth not demerit justice and righteousness; but receiveth and embraceth the same offered unto us in the gospel []