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 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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Haunted Mansion is chaos, a dismantling of power structures and mercenary in its embrace of our flaws. Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times, "At Haunted Mansion 50th anniversary bash, Disneyland stays weird," 9 Aug. 2019 In Cameroon the police mistook Herzog’s cinematographer for an escaped mercenary facing a death sentence. Peter Keough, BostonGlobe.com, "In Focus: Werner Herzog offers up a desert diptych," 1 Aug. 2019 The pair teamed up and formed a power couple: mercenaries for hire. Priyanka Borpujari, National Geographic, "India’s forgotten power broker—what was her secret?," 5 July 2019 An American pilot accused of being a mercenary in Libya's civil war was released this week after being held in the nation for six weeks, CBS News has confirmed. CBS News, "American pilot shot down and detained 6 weeks in Libya is freed," 27 June 2019 Both sides also hired pilots from abroad to fly their aging fleet of Mig warplanes along with mercenaries to bolster their ground offensives. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, "Libya civil war and natural resources attract mix of nations," 2 Aug. 2019 This Week In Heat Vision breakdown Army of the Dead takes place after a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, where a group of mercenaries take the ultimate gamble, venturing into the quarantine zone to pull off the greatest heist ever attempted. Mia Galuppo, The Hollywood Reporter, "Zack Snyder's 'Army of the Dead' Rounds Out Cast With Omari Hardwick, Chris D’Elia," 15 July 2019 Led by their most storied military leaders, General William Howe and his brother Admiral Richard Howe, the British landed in New York with more than 30,000 troops and a sizeable number of Hessian mercenaries. Time, "The Maryland 400 Lost a Battle But Helped Win a War. On the 4th of July, We Should Remember Their Sacrifice," 4 July 2019 But there are plenty of foes in his way, including Orm, the present King of Atlantis, and Black Manta, an armored mercenary and classic Aquaman foe. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "New extended Aquaman trailer shows off over five minutes of underwater action," 5 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Johnson and Statham reprise their roles as lawman Luke Hobbs and mercenary Deckard Shaw, respectively, in their own international adventure that will test the limits of the franchise’s appeal. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, "‘Hobbs & Shaw’ to test the box-office limits of Universal’s ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise," 31 July 2019 Yes, its culture is not nearly as mercenary as the dread pirate Bezos and his band of Amazonians. Adam Seessel, Fortune, "Valuation: I’m a Google Shareholder. Here’s Why I Think More Regulation Would Be Good for Google," 26 July 2019 The one ability that makes up for their weaknesses is the power to take over a mercenary’s body. Gieson Cacho, The Mercury News, "Preview: ‘Vicious Circle’ is a cutthroat version of ‘Evolve’ that’s way more fun," 3 July 2019 That novel is set three decades later, with Kovacs as a member of a mercenary outfit fighting in a corporate war on a planet called Sanction IV. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Netflix has renewed Altered Carbon for a second season," 27 July 2018 That breach showed how governments were increasingly turning to mercenary hackers-for-hire to pry into the cellphones and computers of their domestic opponents. Suzan Fraser, Fox News, "Man linked to Saudi prince at consulate when writer vanished," 18 Oct. 2018 The Cup has no governing body, no way to ensure consistency, and no honest way to promote patriotic rivalry in what has become a mercenary undertaking. Luke O'brien, Town & Country, "Hot Pursuit," 1 Sep. 2013 The clips from Primal featured an extended, semi-acrobatic knife fight between Cage and the mercenary villain (played by Kevin Durand). Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, "Shanghai: Nicolas Cage Touts Next Film Project 'Primal'," 18 June 2018 The comic dynamo Tiffany Haddish, as Dax’s mercenary ex-girlfriend, seems tame here. Jay Longino, New York Times, "Review: In ‘Uncle Drew,’ N.B.A. Stars Keep Dunking With Age," 28 June 2018

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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Learn More about mercenary

Dictionary Entries near mercenary

Merced

Mercedarian

Mercenaria

mercenary

mercer

mercerise

mercerize

Statistics for mercenary

Last Updated

19 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for mercenary

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

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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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