noun \ˈmər-sə-ˌner-ē, -ne-rē\

: a soldier who is paid by a foreign country to fight in its army : a soldier who will fight for any group or country that hires him

plural mer·ce·nar·ies

Full Definition of MERCENARY

:  one that serves merely for wages; especially :  a soldier hired into foreign service

Examples of MERCENARY

  1. an army of foreign mercenaries


Middle English, from Latin mercenarius, irregular from merced-, merces wages — more at mercy
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Military Terms

bivouac, logistics, petard, salient, sally, supernumerary, tactical

Rhymes with MERCENARY

actuary, adversary, airy-fairy, ancillary, antiquary, apiary, arbitrary, aviary, axillary, bacillary, beriberi, bestiary, biliary, black raspberry, Bloody Mary, boysenberry, breviary, budgetary, calamari, calamary, candleberry, Canterbury, capillary, carpellary, cassowary, catenary, cautionary, cavitary, cemetery, centenary, certiorari, checkerberry, chinaberry, cometary, commentary, commissary, condottiere, coralberry, corollary, coronary, culinary, customary, dictionary, dietary, dignitary, dromedary, dysentery, elderberry, emissary, estuary, farkleberry, February, formulary, fragmentary, fritillary, functionary, funerary, honorary, huckleberry, intermarry, janissary, January, lamasery, lapidary, lectionary, legendary, legionary, lingonberry, literary, loganberry, luminary, mammillary, mandatary, maxillary, medullary, miliary, military, millenary, milliary, millinery, missionary, momentary, monastery, mortuary, necessary, ordinary, ossuary, partridgeberry, pensionary, pigmentary, planetary, Pondicherry, prebendary, presbytery, pulmonary, quaternary, red mulberry, reliquary, rowanberry, salivary, salmonberry, salutary, sanctuary, sanguinary, sanitary, secondary, secretary, sedentary, seminary, silverberry, solitary, sour cherry, stationary, stationery, statuary, subcontrary, sublunary, sugarberry, sumptuary, syllabary, temporary, tertiary, thimbleberry, Tipperary, Tom and Jerry, topiary, tributary, tutelary, Typhoid Mary, unitary, urinary, vestiary, Virgin Mary, visionary, voluntary, vulnerary, Waterbury, whortleberry, winterberry



: hired to fight

: caring only about making money

Full Definition of MERCENARY

:  serving merely for pay or sordid advantage :  venal; also :  greedy
:  hired for service in the army of a foreign country
mer·ce·nar·i·ly \ˌmər-sə-ˈner-ə-lē, -ˈne-rə-\ adverb
mer·ce·nar·i·ness \ˈmər-sə-ˌner-ē-nəs, -ˌne-rē-\ noun

Examples of MERCENARY

  1. His motives in choosing a career were purely mercenary.
  2. <they were a mercenary couple, who defined themselves not by what they were but by what they owned>

First Known Use of MERCENARY


Other Military Terms

bivouac, logistics, petard, salient, sally, supernumerary, tactical


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Hired professional soldier who fights for any state or nation without regard to political principles. From the earliest days of organized warfare, governments supplemented their military forces with mercenaries. After the Hundred Years' War (1337–1453), Swiss soldiers were hired out all over Europe by their own cantonal governments and won a high reputation. Rulers of the German state of Hesse also hired out their soldiers, and Hessian troops fought for the British in the American Revolution. Since the late 18th century, most mercenaries have been individual soldiers of fortune.


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