mercenary

noun
mer·​ce·​nary | \ ˈmər-sə-ˌner-ē How to pronounce mercenary (audio) , -ne-rē \
plural mercenaries

Definition of mercenary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: one that serves merely for wages especially : a soldier hired into foreign service mercenaries who guaranteed the success of the rebellion— B. F. Reilly

mercenary

adjective

Definition of mercenary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : serving merely for pay or sordid advantage : venal also : greedy
2 : hired for service in the army of a foreign country

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from mercenary

Adjective

mercenarily \ ˌmər-​sə-​ˈner-​ə-​lē How to pronounce mercenarily (audio) , -​ˈne-​rə-​ \ adverb
mercenariness \ ˈmər-​sə-​ˌner-​ē-​nəs How to pronounce mercenariness (audio) , -​ˌne-​rē-​ \ noun

Examples of mercenary in a Sentence

Noun an army of foreign mercenaries Adjective His motives in choosing a career were purely mercenary. they were a mercenary couple, who defined themselves not by what they were but by what they owned
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Known as both the heavy hitters and mercenaries twists, strong players return to face players in the elimination, most of the time to just compete and, on a few occasions, take their place. Alamin Yohannes, EW.com, "How to build the perfect season of The Challenge," 31 May 2020 It's suspected that Wagner mercenaries will operate the aircraft. Jamie Mcintyre, Washington Examiner, "Reported option for full US withdrawal from Afghanistan by Election Day sparks concern," 27 May 2020 However, American mercenary Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) emerges as a dangerous contender to the throne. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Need a superhero binge? Here's the best viewing order of all 23 Marvel movies during quarantine," 24 May 2020 Led by a warrior named Andy (Theron), a covert group of tight-knit mercenaries with a mysterious inability to die have fought to protect the mortal world for centuries. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Charlize Theron is a badass immortal in action-packed The Old Guard trailer," 21 May 2020 Five ‘Cats basketball mercenaries have declared for the draft. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Doc's Morning Line: Bengals should extend Joe Mixon just not for McCaffrey money," 16 Apr. 2020 The story follows mercenary Takeshi Kovacs as he is brought to life in a new body to solve a mystery. cleveland, "Looking for a new book to read? Check out these bingeable series for avid readers," 8 Apr. 2020 Russia has made more recent inroads, winning some oil and gas licenses and reportedly supplying mercenaries to beat back insurgents operating in the vicinity of the gas project. Paul Burkhardt, Bloomberg.com, "U.S. Throws Down Gauntlet to China With Mozambique LNG Loan," 15 May 2020 Dionne Searcey reported from the Central African Republic that Russia had sent mercenaries there to train local soldiers. Jaclyn Peiser, New York Times, "The New York Times Won 3 Pulitzers. Read the Winning Work.," 4 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Their leader is a wily, resourceful man from Bethlehem, who decides that his people are meant for more than lightning raids and mercenary stints. Ruth Margalit, The New Yorker, "In Search of King David’s Lost Empire," 22 June 2020 Case in point: The epic showdown between challenger Joss and mercenary Derrick. Alamin Yohannes, EW.com, "How to build the perfect season of The Challenge," 31 May 2020 Many industry professionals say that mercenary forces, like bug bounty hackers, are best considered a supplement to, rather than replacement for, in-house security staff. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Bug bounty startup Synack valued at $500 million to boost ‘white hat’ hacking from home," 28 May 2020 Margery’s Valentine must have melted John’s mercenary heart because the couple eventually got married. Ron Charles, Washington Post, "Stationery stores are in trouble, but our love for Valentine’s Day cards burns hotter than ever," 11 Feb. 2020 But the resulting game—and the MMORPG genre, which took cues from World of Warcraft’s success—started to feel a little mercenary starting in the late aughts. Cecilia D'anastasio, Wired, "How World of Warcraft Has Evolved With the Internet," 7 May 2020 Trump’s 2020 digital director, Gary Coby, compared the strategy to high-frequency financial trading: Facebook has built an algorithmic ad-buying system with a mercenary drive toward results, and Trump’s campaign exploits it tirelessly. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "How Facebook Works for Trump," 17 Apr. 2020 Sometime in the Seventies, the American army shifted to a traditional mercenary army of the poor. The Economist, "Social climbing Recruits to America’s armed forces are not what they used to be," 16 Apr. 2020 The mercenary Cloud Strife teams up with Barrett, Wedge, Biggs, and Jessie—members of the eco-terrorist group Avalanche—to destroy a reactor in the floating cyberpunk city of Midgar. Julie Muncy, Wired, "Final Fantasy VII Remake Is a Lot of Filler, Mostly Killer," 10 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mercenary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of mercenary

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

1532, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for mercenary

Noun and Adjective

Middle English, from Latin mercenarius, irregular from merced-, merces wages — more at mercy

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about mercenary

Time Traveler for mercenary

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for mercenary

Last Updated

9 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Mercenary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mercenary. Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for mercenary

mercenary

noun
How to pronounce mercenary (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of mercenary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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

mercenary

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of mercenary (Entry 2 of 2)

: hired to fight
disapproving : caring only about making money

mercenary

noun
mer·​ce·​nary | \ ˈmər-sə-ˌner-ē How to pronounce mercenary (audio) \
plural mercenaries

Kids Definition of mercenary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a soldier paid by a foreign country to fight in its army

mercenary

adjective

Kids Definition of mercenary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : doing something only for the pay or reward
2 : greedy for money I may be mercenary, but I hate poverty …— Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on mercenary

What made you want to look up mercenary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!