\ ə-ˈmərs How to pronounce amerce (audio) \
amerced; amercing

Definition of amerce

transitive verb

: to punish by a fine whose amount is fixed by the court broadly : punish

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Other Words from amerce

amercement \ ə-​ˈmər-​smənt How to pronounce amerce (audio) \ noun
amerciable \ ə-​ˈmər-​sē-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce amerce (audio) , -​ˈmər-​shə-​bəl \ adjective

Did You Know?

If you break the law, you could find yourself "at the mercy" of the court. As you await your punishment (hoping that the judge will in fact be merciful), you may want to ponder the history of amerce. It begins with the Old French phrase a merci, meaning "at (one's) mercy," which in turn gave rise to the Anglo-French verb amercier (same meaning as amerce). Middle English speakers adopted the French word as amercien, which was later modernized to amerce. In addition to the legal use, amerce can also be used in a more general sense for the infliction of any sort of punishment, monetary or otherwise.

First Known Use of amerce

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for amerce

Middle English amercien, from Anglo-French amercier, from Old French a merci at (one's) mercy

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Time Traveler for amerce

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The first known use of amerce was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Amerce.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

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