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

Ryan Reynolds' foul-mouthed mercenary, Deadpool (a.k.a. Ryan Faughnder, latimes.com, "'Deadpool 2' to unseat 'Avengers: Infinity War' at the weekend box office," 17 May 2018 The story of an African mercenary hired to track down a missing boy across an ancient landscape, the novel teems with nightmares: devils, witches, giants, shapeshifters, haunted woods, magic portals. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Most Anticipated Books of 2019: 19 Picks You Should Have on Your Reading List," 1 Jan. 2019 First, German immigration increased markedly when many of the Hessian mercenaries Great Britain had hired to help put down the colonial rebellion decided to stay. John Steele Gordon, WSJ, "A Short History of American Immigration," 20 Nov. 2018 Instead of being assassins, though, the protagonists are mercenaries this time around, and the game’s narrative arc and quest system wind themselves around this notion. Daniel Starkey, Ars Technica, "Assassin’s Creed Odyssey," 4 Oct. 2018 This is not only a tale of evil, about a heartless mercenary and the women who become his victims. Dorothy Rabinowitz, WSJ, "‘The Woman in White’ Review: A 19th-Century Tale for Our Political Time," 18 Oct. 2018 The group’s relationship with the Kremlin is murky and unconfirmed, but its leaders have reportedly received awards from the Kremlin, and its mercenaries were trained at the Russian Defense Ministry’s facilities. Ivan Nechpurenko, The Seattle Times, "3 Russian journalists killed in Central African Republic," 31 July 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 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

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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Dictionary Entries near mercenary

Merced

Mercedarian

Mercenaria

mercenary

mercer

mercerise

mercerize

Statistics for mercenary

Last Updated

18 Mar 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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