The noun is derived from Middle English merī̆t, merī̆te (“quality of person’s character or conduct deserving of reward or punishment; such reward or punishment; excellence, worthiness; benefit; right to be rewarded for spiritual service; retribution at doomsday; virtue through which Jesus Christ brings about salvation; virtue possessed by a holy person; power of a pagan deity”), from Anglo-Norman merit, merite, Old French merite (“moral worth, reward; merit”) (modern French mérite), from Latin meritum (“that which one deserves, deserts; benefit, reward, merit; service; kindness; importance, value, worth; blame, demerit, fault; grounds, reason”), neuter of meritus (“deserved, earned, obtained; due, proper, right; deserving, meritorious”), perfect passive participle of mereō (“to deserve, earn, obtain, merit; to earn a living”), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)mer- (“to allot, assign”). The English word is probably cognate with Ancient Greek μέρος (méros, “component, part; portion, share; destiny, fate, lot”) and cognate with Old Occitan merit.
The verb is derived from Middle French meriter, Old French meriter (“to deserve, merit”) (modern French mériter), from merite: see further above. The word is cognate with Italian meritare (“to deserve, merit; to be worth; to earn”), Latin meritāre (“to earn regularly; to serve as a soldier”), Spanish meritar (“to deserve, merit; to earn”).
- (Received Pronunciation) enPR: mĕrʹĭt, IPA(key): /ˈmɛɹɪt/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈmɛɹət/
Audio (GA) (file)
- Rhymes: -ɛɹɪt
- Hyphenation: me‧rit
- (countable) A claim to commendation or a reward.
- c. 1603–1604, William Shakespeare, The Tragœdy of Othello, the Moore of Venice. […] (First Quarto), London: Printed by N[icholas] O[kes] for Thomas Walkley, […], published 1622, OCLC 724111485, [Act III, scene iii], page 36:
- [R]eputation is an idle and moſt falſe impoſition , oft got without merit and loſt without deſeruing.
- (countable) A mark or token of approbation or to recognize excellence.
- For her good performance in the examination, her teacher gave her ten merits.
- a. 1722, Matthew Prior, “An Ode Humbly Inscrib’d to the Queen”, in The Poetical Works of Matthew Prior: […], in Two Volumes, volume I, London: Printed for W[illiam] Strahan, […], published 1779, OCLC 491256769, stanza IX, page 275:
- Thoſe laurel groves (the merits of thy youth), / Which thou from Mahomet didſt greatly gain, / While, bold aſſertor of reſiſtleſs truth, / Thy ſword did godlike liberty maintain, / Muſt from thy brow their falling honours ſhed, / And their tranſplanted wreaths muſt deck a worthier head.
- (countable, uncountable) Something deserving or worthy of positive recognition or reward.
- 1877, Richard Fuller, “Sermon Thirteenth. The Gospel Stifled by Covetousness.”, in Sermons by Richard Fuller, […] (Second Series), Baltimore, Md.: Published by John F[rederick] Weishampel, Jr.; Philadelphia, Pa.: American Baptist Publication Society; New York, N.Y.: Sheldon and Company, OCLC 1084857360, page 244:
- 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.
- (uncountable, Buddhism, Jainism) The sum of all the good deeds that a person does which determines the quality of the person's next state of existence and contributes to the person's growth towards enlightenment.
- to acquire or make merit
- (uncountable, law) Usually in the plural form the merits: the substantive rightness or wrongness of a legal argument, a lawsuit, etc., as opposed to technical matters such as the admissibility of evidence or points of legal procedure; (by extension) the overall good or bad quality, or rightness or wrongness, of some other thing.
- Even though the plaintiff was ordered by the judge to pay some costs for not having followed the correct procedure, she won the case on the merits.
- (countable, obsolete) The quality or state of deserving retribution, whether reward or punishment.
- c. 1606–1607, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Anthonie and Cleopatra”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act V, scene ii], page 366, column 2:
- Be it known, that we the greateſt are mis-thoght / For things that others do : and when we fall, / We anſwer others merits, in our name / Are therefore to be pittied.
- badge of merit (obsolete), merit badge
- figure of merit
- merit badger
- merit badging, merit-badging
- merit field
- merit good
- meritmonger (obsolete)
- meritory (obsolete)
- (transitive) To deserve, to earn.
- Her performance merited its wild applause.
- 1897, Winston Churchill, chapter V, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., published March 1898, OCLC 222716698, page 78:
- 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.
- (intransitive) To be deserving or worthy.
- They were punished as they merited.
- (transitive, obsolete, rare) To reward.
- [1611?], Homer, “Book IX”, in Geo[rge] Chapman, transl., The Iliads of Homer Prince of Poets. […], London: Printed for Nathaniell Butter, OCLC 614803194; The Iliads of Homer, Prince of Poets, […] In Two Volumes, volume I, new edition, London: Charles Knight and Co., […], 1843, OCLC 987451361, page 203:
- Thus charg’d thy sire, which thou forgett’st: yet now those thoughts appease / That torture thy great spirit with wrath; which if thou wilt give surcease, / The king will merit it with gifts ; and if thou wilt give ear / I’ll tell you how much he offers thee:—yet thou sitt’st angry here.
- ^ “merī̆t(e, n.” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 12 February 2019.
- ^ “merit, n.”, in OED Online , Oxford: Oxford University Press, September 2001; “merit” (US) / “merit” (UK) in Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press.
- ^ “merit, v.”, in OED Online , Oxford: Oxford University Press, September 2001.
- merit (Buddhism) on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
- merit (Catholicism on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
- merit (disambiguation) on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
- merit in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
- merit in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
- merit at OneLook Dictionary Search
merit m (plural meric)