noun mer·cy \ˈmər-sē\

: 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

plural mercies

Full Definition of MERCY

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
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>
:  compassionate treatment of those in distress <works of mercy among the poor>
mercy adjective
at the mercy of
:  wholly in the power of :  with no way to protect oneself against

Examples of MERCY

  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 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>.

Rhymes with MERCY


Next Word in the Dictionary: mercy killingPrevious Word in the Dictionary: mercury–vapor lampAll Words Near: mercy
May 30, 2015
metadata Hear it
data about other data
Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears