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

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Other Words from mercenary

Adjective

mercenarily \ ˌmər-​sə-​ˈner-​ə-​lē How to pronounce mercenary (audio) , -​ˈne-​rə-​ \ adverb
mercenariness \ ˈmər-​sə-​ˌner-​ē-​nəs How to pronounce mercenary (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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Smiling Tiger, the mercenary whose identity Sam briefly assumes, is a minor villain from the Nineties New Warriors comic. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, "‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’: The Man Behind the Mask," 2 Apr. 2021 If many movies are to be believed, one of your quiet suburban neighbors is a former elite assassin, freelance secret agent or special-ops mercenary trying to start fresh and escape the stress and murdering. Don Steinberg, WSJ, "Bob Odenkirk Plays the Latest Suburban ‘Nobody’ With a Hidden Past," 26 Mar. 2021 Aligned with Marvel's year-long commemoration of Deadpool, Funko dressed up Wade Wilson's mercenary in various costumes, including a construction worker, a backyard griller (with a gun as a tong), a Roman senator, and even a flamenco dancer. Nina Huang, EW.com, "Funko releases Deadpool Funko Pops to celebrate the character’s 30th anniversary (and they're hilarious)," 17 Mar. 2021 Albrecht von Wallenstein, a Bohemian mercenary, played a big role in the catastrophe. Sigrid Macrae, Harper's Magazine, "Two Germanys," 16 Mar. 2021 One theory raised by researchers speculates that the helmet belonged to a mercenary who fought alongside the Egyptian Pharaoh Necho II, per the Express’ Sebastian Kettley. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, "Was This Helmet Worn by an Ancient Greek Soldier During the Persian Wars?," 9 Mar. 2021 On an alien planet, a mercenary and his ragtag band of fighters struggle to survive against an onslaught of fearsome warriors who hunt them for sport. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: ‘Gandhi’; ‘Forrest Gump’ and more," 26 Feb. 2021 Holly was written as a slim girl, just shy of 19, piquant, breezy, and mercenary in her pursuit of a good time. Callahan Tormey, Town & Country, "Who Was the Real Holly Golightly?," 28 Dec. 2020 Durant often felt like a mercenary and scrammed again. Rusty Simmons, SFChronicle.com, "Warriors’ Curry on his time with Durant: ‘The great ones bring the best out of you’," 21 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective For too long, the House of Medicine has adopted a mercenary attitude toward its newest doctors. Clifford M. Marks, STAT, "Make residency — and health care — more equitable by scrapping The Match," 19 Mar. 2021 Armed with accelerated healing powers and a twisted sense of humor, mercenary Wade Wilson adopts the alter ego Deadpool and hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: ‘The Searchers’; ‘Forrest Gump’," 12 Mar. 2021 Here’s the location of every mercenary character on the Season 5 map: Spend some gold bars, hire a character, earn 40,000 XP and go eliminate some fools. Erik Kain, Forbes, "‘Fortnite’ NPC Locations: Where To Hire A Character," 11 Mar. 2021 But this time, the sight of stars in their finery in social isolation seemed less a mercenary marketing play (though there’s obviously still some of that) than a refusal to wallow and an understanding of the value of vicarious escapism. New York Times, "The Best and Worst of the Golden Globes," 1 Mar. 2021 Footloose Fern incarnates the spirit that made America great, a spirit that has been squelched in a mercenary economy gone bust. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, "‘Nomadland’: A wispy, affecting vision of life on the road," 17 Feb. 2021 Breaking a new artist used to be a mercenary campaign of co-signs and guest spots. Craig Jenkins, Vulture, "Nothing Is Flattening Music Like TikTok," 12 Feb. 2021 In recent months, a #FreeBritney movement has sprung up to advocate for the singer’s welfare, with speculation that she’s being manipulated against her will for mercenary reasons. Kara Baskin, BostonGlobe.com, "Everything you need to know about why Britney Spears is back in the news," 10 Feb. 2021 An expired copyright and mercenary timing will do that. Barbara Vandenburgh, USA TODAY, "The copyright to 'The Great Gatsby’ is up, and prequel 'Nick' is here to take advantage," 6 Jan. 2021

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for mercenary

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for mercenary

Last Updated

11 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Mercenary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mercenary. Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for mercenary

mercenary

noun

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

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Comments on mercenary

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