mer·​ci·​ful | \ˈmər-si-fəl \

Definition of merciful 

: full of mercy : compassionate a merciful ruler also : providing relief a merciful end

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Other Words from merciful

mercifulness \-​fəl-​nəs \ noun

Examples of merciful in a Sentence

He became less merciful to his enemies. He died a quick and merciful death.

Recent Examples on the Web

And yet, a cool warehouse might be considered a merciful destiny compared to the fate of Zaha Hadid’s 2000 pavilion. Max Maeckler, Vogue, "Bjarke Ingels’s Serpentine Pavilion Is on a World Tour: First Stop, Toronto," 24 Sep. 2018 Pope Francis has taken the characteristic tack of stressing confession’s merciful aspect as the way to achieve forgiveness, rather than its punitive dimension. Rob Taylor And, WSJ, "New Laws Require Priests to Break the ‘Seal of Confession’," 3 Aug. 2018 Had that remained the case this pardon might have even been widely seen as merciful. Jake Bullinger, Outside Online, "Trump’s Pardon Condones Western Rebellion," 12 July 2018 Thankfully, this misguided venture by my sister came to a merciful conclusion. Bob Fernandez,, "Philly law firm Schnader Harrison, lawyer sued in Middleton brother-sister feud over billions," 26 June 2018 Another case may be that of a woman who decides to end her life and assumes the idea of murdering her children as a merciful act to avoid pain and suffering, Pettit said. Johanna A. Álvarez, miamiherald, "Florida among top states for murder-suicides," 2 July 2018 Our long-term goal must be the development and enactment of a pro-family, just, merciful, and comprehensive immigration reform. San Antonio Express-News, "Archbishop’s call for all life, ‘sanctity of every family’," 1 July 2018 Moreover, the merciful rarity of these situations also makes them harder to prepare for. Jack Stewart, WIRED, "Crash-Happy RC Cars Make Self-Driving Tech Smarter," 29 June 2018 The Archdiocese of Boston welcomes them to our parishes and the ministry of celebrating the sacraments, sharing the gift of faith and witnessing the loving, merciful presence of the Lord. Elise Takahama,, "Cardinal Sean O’Malley to ordain 7 priests for Boston Archdiocese," 18 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'merciful.' 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 merciful

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for merciful

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

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The first known use of merciful was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for merciful



English Language Learners Definition of merciful

: treating people with kindness and forgiveness : not cruel or harsh : having or showing mercy

: giving relief from suffering


mer·​ci·​ful | \ˈmər-si-fəl \

Kids Definition of merciful

: having or showing mercy or compassion a merciful ruler

Other Words from merciful

mercifully \-​fə-​lē \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on merciful

Spanish Central: Translation of merciful

Nglish: Translation of merciful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of merciful for Arabic Speakers

Comments on merciful

What made you want to look up merciful? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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