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noun mer·cy \ˈmər-sē\

Simple Definition of mercy

  • : kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly

  • : kindness or help given to people who are in a very bad or desperate situation

  • : a good or lucky fact or situation

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of mercy



  1. 1 a :  compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power; also :  lenient or compassionate treatment <begged for mercy> b :  imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder

  2. 2 a :  a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion b :  a fortunate circumstance <it was a mercy they found her before she froze>

  3. 3 :  compassionate treatment of those in distress <works of mercy among the poor>



at the mercy of

  1. :  wholly in the power of :  with no way to protect oneself against

Examples of mercy in a sentence

  1. He is a vicious criminal who deserves no mercy.

  2. She fell to her knees and asked for mercy.

  3. They came on a mission of mercy to provide food and medical care for starving children.

  4. It's a mercy that the building was empty when the fire started.

  5. Thank heaven for small mercies.

Origin and Etymology of mercy

Middle English, from Anglo-French merci, from Medieval Latin merced-, merces, from Latin, price paid, wages, from merc-, merx merchandise

First Known Use: 13th century

Synonym Discussion of mercy

mercy, charity, clemency, grace, leniency mean a disposition to show kindness or compassion. mercy implies compassion that forbears punishing even when justice demands it <threw himself on the mercy of the court>. charity stresses benevolence and goodwill shown in broad understanding and tolerance of others <show a little charity for the less fortunate>. clemency implies a mild or merciful disposition in one having the power or duty of punishing <the judge refused to show clemency>. grace implies a benign attitude and a willingness to grant favors or make concessions <by the grace of God>. leniency implies lack of severity in punishing <criticized the courts for excessive leniency>.

MERCY Defined for Kids


noun mer·cy \ˈmər-sē\

Definition of mercy for Students



  1. 1 :  kind and forgiving treatment of someone (as a wrongdoer or an opponent) <The prisoners were shown mercy.>

  2. 2 :  kindness or help given to an unfortunate person <an act of mercy>

  3. 3 :  a kind sympathetic disposition :  willingness to forgive, spare, or help <“There is not a scrap of pity or mercy in your heart …” — Brian Jacques, Redwall>

  4. 4 :  a blessing as an act of divine love <the mercies of God>

  5. 5 :  a fortunate happening <It's a mercy that we arrived in time.>

at the mercy of

  1. :  completely without protection from <We're at the mercy of the weather.>

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