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See also: Mercy


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English Wikipedia has an article on:


From Middle English mercy, merci, from Anglo-Norman merci (compare continental Old French merci, mercit), from Latin mercēs (wages, fee, price), from merx (wares, merchandise). Displaced native Old English mildheortnes. Cognate with French merci.



mercy (countable and uncountable, plural mercies)

  1. (uncountable) Relenting; forbearance to cause or allow harm to another.
    Antonyms: mercilessness, ruthlessness, cruelty
    She took mercy on him and quit embarrassing him.
  2. (uncountable) Forgiveness or compassion, especially toward those less fortunate.
    Have mercy on the poor and assist them if you can.
  3. (uncountable) A tendency toward forgiveness, pity, or compassion.
    Mercy is one of his many virtues.
  4. (countable) Instances of forbearance or forgiveness.
    Psalms 40:11 Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord
  5. (countable) A blessing; something to be thankful for.
    It was a mercy that we were not inside when the roof collapsed
  6. (uncountable) A children's game in which two players stand opposite with hands grasped and twist each other's arms until one gives in.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


mercy (third-person singular simple present mercies, present participle mercying, simple past and past participle mercied)

  1. To feel mercy
    • 1866, Sarah Hammond Palfrey, Herman: Or, Young Knighthood, page 189:
      I despised her; but I mercied her, too, and gave her sweet berries to eat, and led her to my lodge, and said to my best wife, ' Get up from my best skin, for the white squaw is a guest, and is weary.'
    • 1867, Henry Mills Alden, Lee Foster Hartman, Frederick Lewis Allen, Harper's Magazine - Volume 34, page 402:
      At another time, forgetting "his verse," he attempted part of the Lord's Sermon on the Mount, by repeating, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be mercied!"
    • 1888, Parnellism and Crime: Further evidence as to murders and outrages:
      There is not a less mercied pair of rogues within the walls of Ireland these days than you both.
    • 1965, Equinox: An Anthology of New Writing from the Philippines:
      In vogue, an age, we are interrupted typics of Universal errors; established adults of vaudeville Street shows — but not quite complete or made whole Neither pitied, nor mercied, nor eldered as one Full disguised and costumed.
    • 1996 June 4, Adrian Philips, “I think homosexuality destroys the society”, in alt.homosexual (Usenet):
      No thank you, I resent being mercied by a thing that is just a imaginary product of suppressive humans who wanna have power over people!
    • 2004, Frederick Dale Bruner, Matthew: A Commentary - Volume 1, →ISBN, page 73:
      Thus Jesus represents human nature in a third way — not as mercied outsiders like the Magi, nor as a judged insider like Herod. Jesus is New Israel in person, the fulfilled promise wrapped in the life of a single Jewish child.
    • 2016, Christine M. Bochen, The Way of Mercy, →ISBN:
      For Prevallet, as for Julian, God's love is a “mercying love” in which we are called to live.
    • 2017, The Theological and Ecological Vision of Laudato Si', →ISBN:
      Jesus's gaze is “mercying”; he looks upon people and things with a love that sees the fullness of what they are and might be.
  2. To show mercy; to pardon or treat leniently because of mercy
    • 1833, Etienne Achille Réveil, Museum of Painting and Sculpture:
      In the middle of the room is a young Infanta intended for Marguerite Theresa, born in 1651, daughter of Philip the fourth, whose portrait Velasquez took in 1658, to send to Leopold, who had just been elected Emperor of Germanyd and who mercied her in 1666.
    • 1963, John Brunner, Listen! The Stars!, page 46:
      Remember that kid that kept yelling that his father was mercied?” “Mercied?” - “The kid that kept saying his father was killed?
    • 1999, Chuma Nwokolo, African Tales at Jailpoint, page 86:
      'Hah! Good Samaritan indeed! Then why hasn't she mercied me all these years I've been begging for her pepper-soup on credit?
    • 2005, Randy Howe, Softball for Weekend Warriors, →ISBN:
      Getting mercied sucks. And truth be told, mercying another team sucks.
    • 2010, Peter Josyph, Adventures in Reading Cormac McCarthy, →ISBN, page 23:
      This was Suttree's trolley token, the one that mercied him, the one that froze him to death.



  1. Expressing surprise or alarm.
    Mercy! Look at the state of you!

Further reading[edit]

Middle English[edit]


From Old French mercier.



  1. Alternative form of mercien

Middle French[edit]


mercy m or f (plural mercys)

  1. mercy (relenting; forbearance to cause or allow harm to another)
    • 1488, Jean Dupré, Lancelot du Lac, page 5:
      la damoiselle qui grant paour avoit de mourir cria mercy
      the lady who was very afraid of dying cried out 'mercy!'