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

Money is speech, says our illegitimate Supreme Court, and so our representatives are mere mercenaries doing the bidding of their patrons. Jamshed Dastur, latimes.com, "This is not who we are as Americans. Or is it?," 5 July 2018 These mercenaries of aggressive swing take to the seas, fulfilling the dreams of punk rock pirates everywhere. New York Times, "13 Pop, Rock and Jazz Concerts to Check Out in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 5 July 2018 One day soon, the best mercenaries will be willing to sacrifice money and years to play alongside Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Marcus Hayes, Philly.com, "Sixers weren't ready for LeBron James or Paul George | Marcus Hayes," 4 July 2018 There is always tension, in a relationship that can be mutually beneficial but also is mercenary at its core. Tim Layden, SI.com, "Trainer Bob Baffert, Justify Jockey Mike Smith Relish a Remarkable Ride Before Belmont Stakes," 6 June 2018 On February 7, Russian mercenaries fired at American troops in eastern Syria. Alex Ward, Vox, "The real (but small) danger of a US-Russia war over Syria," 14 Apr. 2018 Remember, Secretary Mattis said U.S. forces have killed over 200 Russian mercenaries in Syria. Fox News, "Gorka, Hollman preview Trump's upcoming summit with Putin," 30 June 2018 Get ready to be called a heartless mercenary again, LeBron, but this time there won’t be rings to distract from the blowback. 4. Chris Chase, For The Win, "What talking heads will say about LeBron for every potential destination," 13 June 2018 Herrera will play Javier Gallegos, a mercenary willing to kill for the highest bidder. Rosy Cordero, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Exorcist' Star Alfonso Herrera Joins USA Network's 'Queen of the South' (Exclusive)," 31 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 Pitt plays a mercenary named Vanisher who enlists in Deadpool's bedraggled team called X Force (like X-Men, but gender-nonspecific). Rebecca Farley, refinery29.com, "Which Ocean's 11 Star Had The Better Superhero Movie Cameo?," 18 May 2018 And Woody Harrelson, as Han's mercenary mentor, is, well, Woody Harrelson, which is not a bad thing at all. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, "The breakout star in 'Solo' is L3-37, a female droid for our turbulent Time's Up era," 20 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

14 Oct 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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