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 William Morrow; 336 pages; $29.99 A former paratrooper and mercenary makes the case that the American armed forces are ill-equipped for the conflicts of the 21st century. The Economist, "Our books of the year," 7 Dec. 2019 Wagner Group is believed to have sent mercenaries to multiple conflicts, including Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere, raising accusations that Moscow is using it to spread its influence. Washington Post, "Libyan officials collect evidence of Russian fighters in war," 5 Dec. 2019 Turkish army have been attacking villages of Assadiya, Mishrafa and Manajer with a large number of mercenaries and all kinds of heavy weapons despite the truce. Patrick Smith, NBC News, "Kurdish commander says Turkey resumes fighting despite ongoing cease-fire," 24 Oct. 2019 In 1986, the government of Nicaragua formally charged captured American mercenary Eugene Hasenfus with several crimes, including terrorism. BostonGlobe.com, "In 1803, the US Senate ratified the Louisiana Purchase.," 20 Oct. 2019 The lack of an exit wound is a signature of the ammunition used by the same Russian mercenaries elsewhere. David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, "Russian Snipers, Missiles and Warplanes Try to Tilt Libyan War," 5 Nov. 2019 With the release of Terminator: Dark Fate on Nov. 1, the mercenary brought to life by Arnold Schwarzenegger proves again to be one resilient robot. Bill Higgins, The Hollywood Reporter, "Hollywood Flashback: 'Terminator' Star Linda Hamilton Called Her Marriage to James Cameron "Terrible on Every Level"," 31 Oct. 2019 Reports of atrocities committed against Kurds by the mercenaries deployed by Turkey keep pouring in. The Economist, "Russia and Turkey agree to carve up northern Syria," 24 Oct. 2019 The tech bros who built the libertarian paradise are also portrayed as naive good guys who never meant for their technology to be used by evil mercenaries. Matthew Gault, Time, "Ghost Recon Breakpoint Is Just Too Frustrating to Love," 11 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective That’s a less mercenary way of saying Ford will keep building them till the last check clears, but the end is nigh, and don’t expect any significant investment in new technology or features between now and when the last shift punches out. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "Lincoln's remaining sedans are doomed — but a new model could help brand," 30 Nov. 2019 The Mandalorian really is Disney’s Boba Fett, a mercenary safe enough for kids. Darren Franich, EW.com, "The Mandalorian wants to be your family-friendly ultraviolent Star Wars," 12 Nov. 2019 In 2018, Russian mercenary forces aligned with the Syrian regime were killed during a clash with U.S. and Kurdish troops stationed near a Conoco gas plant. Missy Ryan, Washington Post, "Trump’s focus on protecting oil in Syria highlights an evolving U.S. mission," 24 Oct. 2019 Even though Charlie and Nicole pledge not to drag out their breakup by bringing lawyers into it, reality intervenes, and both hire people who recommend the most mercenary courses of action. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Marriage Story Examines the Details of Love and Loss," 8 Nov. 2019 Asked if taking money for the deployment makes the US a mercenary force, Esper said no because the United States is not doing it for the money, but to deter Iran. BostonGlobe.com, "PRINCE SULTAN AIR BASE, Saudi Arabia — Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday that he will urge US allies later this week to contribute more to the defense of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region to counter threats from Iran.," 23 Oct. 2019 The film centers around Smith as Henry Brogan, a former Marine sniper turned Defense Intelligence Agency assassin, and a mercenary company owner — think Blackstar — who was his former commander and cloned him. Chuck Yarborough, cleveland, "Will Smith scores twice in action thriller, lesson-laden ‘Gemini Man’," 9 Oct. 2019 Hobbs and Shaw PG13 Presented by the Fast and Furious franchise, a federal agent and a mercenary join forces to battle a terrorist who has super-human abilities thanks to biotechnology. Guy Hanford, Ramona Sentinel, "‘Downton Abbey’ opens in theaters on Friday," 20 Sep. 2019 Imprisoned within the Great Wall of China, a mercenary warrior joins forces with an elite army to battle an onslaught of marauding monsters. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 15, 2019: ‘Alien,’ ‘Aliens’ and more," 13 Sep. 2019

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

9 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Mercenary.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mercenary. Accessed 11 December 2019.

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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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