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See also: Merit, mèrit, and měřit



From Middle English merite, from Old French merite, from Latin meritum (that which one deserves; service, kindness, benefit, fault, blame, demerit, grounds, reason, worth, value, importance), neuter of meritus, past participle of mereō (I deserve, earn, gain, get, acquire), akin to Ancient Greek μέρος (méros, a part, lot, fate, destiny).



merit (countable and uncountable, plural merits)

  1. Something deserving positive recognition.
    His reward for his merit was a check for $50.
  2. Something worthy of a high rating.
    • Richard Fuller
      In all our noble Anglo-Saxon language, there is scarcely a nobler word than worth; yet this term has now almost exclusively a pecuniary meaning. So that if you ask what a man is worth, nobody ever thinks of telling you what he is, but what he has. The answer will never refer to his merits, his virtues, but always to his possessions. He is worth — so much money.
  3. A claim to commendation or reward.
  4. The quality of deserving reward.
    • Shakespeare
      Reputation is [] oft got without merit, and lost without deserving.
    • Alexander Pope
      To him the wit of Greece and Rome was known, / And every author's merit, but his own.
  5. Reward deserved; any mark or token of excellence or approbation.
    His teacher gave him ten merits.
    • Prior
      those laurel groves, the merits of thy youth
  6. (obsolete) The quality or state of deserving either good or bad.
    • Shakespeare
      Be it known, that we, the greatest, are misthought / For things that others do; and when we fall, / We answer others' merits in our name.





merit (third-person singular simple present merits, present participle meriting, simple past and past participle merited)

  1. (transitive) To earn or to deserve.
    Her performance merited its wild applause.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 5, in The Celebrity:
      Although the Celebrity was almost impervious to sarcasm, he was now beginning to exhibit visible signs of uneasiness, the consciousness dawning upon him that his eccentricity was not receiving the ovation it merited.
  2. (intransitive) To be worthy or deserving.
    They were punished as they merited.
    (Can we add an example for this sense?)
  3. (obsolete, rare) To reward.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Chapman to this entry?)

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From Latin meritum.


merit m (plural meric)

  1. merit