mercenary

noun
mer·​ce·​nary | \ˈmər-sə-ˌner-ē, -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, -​ˈne-​rə-​ \ adverb
mercenariness \ˈmər-​sə-​ˌner-​ē-​nəs, -​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

By the second episode, Martin is in bed with a West German diplomat’s wife, Brigitte Winkelmann (Lavinia Wilson, gorgeous), and then zipping off to Libya with a mercenary. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Escapist Spy Thriller Deutschland 86 Breaks the Curse of the Second Season," 24 Oct. 2018 One is at Aden's Buriqa base — the headquarters for the Emirati forces and where American officers were seen along with Colombian mercenaries, according to two prisoners and two security officials. Maggie Michael, Fox News, "Sexual abuses rampant in UAE-controlled prisons in Yemen," 22 June 2018 Russian mercenaries were among the hundreds who died as the Americans strafed, bombed and shelled the assault force, Army Brig. NBC News, "One tiny corner of the U.S. government pushes back against Russian disinformation," 15 Apr. 2018 Shepherd Book knows more about the criminal underworld than a preacher should, the mercenary Jayne Cobb is trigger-happy, and the crew’s constant bad luck lands them further and further into debt with criminals. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Big Damn Hero is a familiar trip back to Joss Whedon’s Firefly universe," 20 Nov. 2018 The journalists were making a documentary about the mysterious activities of a group of paramilitary mercenaries in the Central African Republic, which is undergoing brutal sectarian strife. Ivan Nechpurenko, The Seattle Times, "3 Russian journalists killed in Central African Republic," 31 July 2018 In April, investigative journalist Maxim Borodin, who helped expose the involvement of Russian mercenaries in Syria, died after falling from his apartment’s balcony in his hometown of Yekaterinburg. Anatoly Kurmanaev, WSJ, "Russia Criticized for Handling of Anna Politkovskaya Probe," 17 July 2018 But they are trapped by a band of mercenaries, a plot intended to mirror real-life animal poaching . Jake Coyle, chicagotribune.com, "'Jurassic World' sequel stomps its way to $150 million debut," 24 June 2018 The detainees could not say whether the Americans, some of whom wear military uniforms, are members of the U.S. government or mercenaries. Maggie Michael, Fox News, "Yemeni prisoners say Emirati officers sexually torture them," 21 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 Pop songwriters are necessarily mercenary, offering their services to the artist who will take them. refinery29.com, "Read This & You’ll Never Hear “...Baby One More Time” The Same Way Again," 26 June 2018 Directed by Brian Pastor, the cast will be led by Scottie Caldwell as Raina Petkoff, a young woman who falls in love with a pacifistic mercenary soldier during the 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian War in spite of her being engaged to another man. Kt Hawbaker, chicagotribune.com, "Full cast announced for City Lit's season opener, 'Arms and the Man'," 12 July 2018 That sounds mercenary, but the bigger reason is to clear the crime from the books with a conviction. Stu Bykofsky, Philly.com, "Plea deal no bargain for cop killers | Stu Bykofsky," 25 June 2018 No one seemed to mind the addition of able mercenary JJ Redick for this season, which was about as pure a signing as $23 million can buy. Bob Ford, Philly.com, "LeBron James and the quest for Process purity | Bob Ford," 17 May 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

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

Adjective

see mercenary entry 1

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Learn More about mercenary

Dictionary Entries near mercenary

Merced

Mercedarian

Mercenaria

mercenary

mercer

mercerise

mercerize

Statistics for mercenary

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

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

: caring only about making money

mercenary

noun
mer·​ce·​nary | \ˈmər-sə-ˌner-ē \
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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