Definition of mercy
1 a : compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power; also : lenient or compassionate treatment <begged for mercy> b : imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder
2 a : a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion b : a fortunate circumstance <it was a mercy they found her before she froze>
3 : compassionate treatment of those in distress <works of mercy among the poor>
at the mercy of
: wholly in the power of : with no way to protect oneself against
Examples of mercy in a sentence
He is a vicious criminal who deserves no mercy.
She fell to her knees and asked for mercy.
They came on a mission of mercy to provide food and medical care for starving children.
It's a mercy that the building was empty when the fire started.
Thank heaven for small mercies.
Origin and Etymology of mercy
Middle English, from Anglo-French merci, from Medieval Latin merced-, merces, from Latin, price paid, wages, from merc-, merx merchandise
First Known Use: 13th century
Synonym Discussion of mercy
MERCY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of mercy for English Language Learners
: kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly
: kindness or help given to people who are in a very bad or desperate situation
: a good or lucky fact or situation
MERCY Defined for Kids
Definition of mercy for Students
1 : kind and forgiving treatment of someone (as a wrongdoer or an opponent) <The prisoners were shown mercy.>
2 : kindness or help given to an unfortunate person <an act of mercy>
3 : a kind sympathetic disposition : willingness to forgive, spare, or help <“There is not a scrap of pity or mercy in your heart …” — Brian Jacques, Redwall>
4 : a blessing as an act of divine love <the mercies of God>
5 : a fortunate happening <It's a mercy that we arrived in time.>
at the mercy of
: completely without protection from <We're at the mercy of the weather.>
Seen and Heard
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