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 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 Collings said the name is derived from John Hawkwood, an English mercenary who in the 1300s fought in the Pisan-Florentine war. Kim Chatelain|contributing Writer, NOLA.com, "St. Paul seniors are proving to be prodigy hedge fund managers," 19 Sep. 2020 Bauer will go down as a mercenary in a wishbone-C cap. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, "Doc's Morning Line: We've never seen anything like Joe Burrow in Cincinnati before.," 8 Sep. 2020 The show was based on the classic cyberpunk noir novel by Richard K. Morgan and launched in 2018 starring Joel Kinnaman as future mercenary Takeshi Kovacs and included 10 episodes. James Hibberd, EW.com, "Altered Carbon canceled by Netflix after two seasons," 26 Aug. 2020 The messenger cell bursts in with a grainy photo, showing it to each mercenary in turn, asking: Is this your guy? Ed Yong, The Atlantic, "The Pandemic’s Biggest Mystery Is Our Own Immune System," 5 Aug. 2020 She'll be joined by Devon Terrell as young mercenary named Arthur, Sebastian Armesto as King Uther, and Gustaf Skarsgård as Merlin, among others. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Netflix's Cursed Will Retell the Story of King Arthur and the Lady of the Lake," 24 May 2020 The actress stars in Netflix's new action film The Old Guard as an immortal mercenary who leads and trains a group of fellow warriors. Ale Russian, PEOPLE.com, "Charlize Theron 'Finally' Conquered Her Fear of Riding Horses for New Movie: 'It Was Therapeutic'," 8 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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 There was anxiety, of course, about how Dylan’s songs could now be deployed to embarrassing or brazenly mercenary ends. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, "Can You Really Buy Bob Dylan’s Songs?," 8 Dec. 2020 For those who don’t know, Moon Knight is Marc Spector, a former Marine and mercenary whose life was saved by the Egyptian moon god Khonshu, with the promise to be the deity’s avatar on Earth. Andrew A. Smith Tribune News Service, Star Tribune, "3 classic superheroes get TV shows," 2 Nov. 2020 For those who don’t know (and shame on you), Moon Knight is Marc Spector, a former Marine and mercenary whose life was saved by the Egyptian moon god Khonshu, with the promise to be the deity’s avatar on Earth. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "Some of the questions that keep comics fans awake at night: Captain Comics," 31 Oct. 2020 But even for the most pragmatic and mercenary executives, the cost advantage of retraining over outside hiring is attention-grabbing. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Lay off the layoffs, experts say. To transform effectively, focus on retraining instead," 27 Oct. 2020 Ahsoka Tano, former apprentice to Anakin Skywalker, is thinning out the mercenary presence in the city of Calodan in order to get to its magistrate. Alex Kane, USA TODAY, "The Mandalorian recap: 'The Jedi'," 27 Nov. 2020 That announcement did not go over well, with people decrying the mercenary nature, the lack of availability to non-subscribers and the end of family traditions. Channing King, The Indianapolis Star, "WFYI to air 'Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,' 'Charlie Brown Christmas'," 18 Nov. 2020 Moreover, this play about mercenary transactions smoothed by in-person connection — schmoozing, glad-handing, selling out over hors d’oeuvres — may suffer from the lack of in-person presence. Washington Post, "Audio adaptation of Beltway drama ‘Kings’ tantalizes but ultimately falls flat without a stage," 5 Nov. 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.

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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

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Mercenary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mercenary. Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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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

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Comments on mercenary

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