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From Old French desmerite (modern French démérite).


  • IPA(key): /dɪˈmɛɹɪt/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛɹɪt


demerit (countable and uncountable, plural demerits)

  1. A quality of being inadequate; a fault; a disadvantage
  2. A mark given for bad conduct to a person attending an educational institution or serving in the army.
    • 2002, George W. Bush, Commencement Address at West Point:
      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.
    • c. 1550s, Nicholas Udall, Ralph Roister Doister
      Leave here thy body, death has her demerit
    • 1603, Plutarch, “What Signifieth this Word Ei, Engraven over the Dore of Apolloes Temple in the City of Delphi”, in Philemon Holland, transl., The Philosophie, Commonlie Called, The Morals [], London: [] Arnold Hatfield, →OCLC, page 1354:
      But when firſt Cleobulus the tyrant of the Lindians, and then Periander the tyrant likewiſe of Corinth (who had neither of them any one jot of vertue or wiſdome) by the greatneſſe of their power, by the number of their friends, and by many benefits and demerits whereby they obliged their adherents, acquired forcibly this reputation, in deſpite of all uſurped the name of Sages; and to this purpoſe cauſed to be ſpred ſowen and divulged throughout all Greece certaine odde ſentences and notable ſayings, as well as thoſe of others, wherewith the former Sages, above named were diſcontented.



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.
  2. (transitive, archaic) To depreciate or cry down.
    • 1576, John Woolton, The Christian Manuell:
      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 []




Borrowed from French démérite.


demerit n (plural demerite)

  1. (obsolete) lack of merit



  • demerit in Academia Română, Micul dicționar academic, ediția a II-a, Bucharest: Univers Enciclopedic, 2010. →ISBN