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

Nigeria, a democracy whose government—for all its flaws—is far less impotent than Somalia’s, is bound to resent foreign navies or mercenaries off its coast. The Economist, "The Gulf of Guinea is now the world’s worst piracy hotspot," 29 June 2019 Sponaugle was allegedly a mercenary flying for the Government of National Accord. CBS News, "American pilot shot down and detained 6 weeks in Libya is freed," 27 June 2019 On a recent day, dozens of migrants sat on the floor of the entry hall, glued to an American action movie on an old television featuring mercenaries performing martial arts. Dudley Althaus, ExpressNews.com, "Migration slows in Mexico. But will it last?," 23 June 2019 Everyone in that expat world—humanitarian workers, consultants, civilian members of the various international organizations, and mercenaries—all of them were well aware that ultimately, in one way or another, the Taliban would return to power. Rony Brauman, Harper's magazine, "Salable Virtues," 10 Apr. 2019 After their plans go awry, they are chased by Pinkerton agents, mercenaries and law enforcement. Sarah E. Needleman, WSJ, "Pinkerton Detectives Still Exist, and They’re Tired of Being the Bad Guys," 21 Jan. 2019 Two other security officials, who were once close to the Emiratis, said that mercenaries including Americans are present at all the Emirati military camps and sites, including the prisons. Maggie Michael, Fox News, "Yemeni prisoners say Emirati officers sexually torture them," 21 June 2018 The Defense Ministry has found evidence that the movement has recruited mercenaries from Nigeria, according to the statement. Divine Ntaryike Jr, Bloomberg.com, "Cameroon Imposes Week-Long Curfew in Anglophone Regions," 11 Feb. 2018 In the Star Wars expanded universe, Mandalorians are a feared, interstellar warrior people who frequently become mercenaries or bounty hunters. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Lucasfilm releases an image, title, and more for its live-action Star Wars series," 5 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 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

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

8 Jul 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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