mer·​cy | \ˈmər-sē \
plural mercies

Definition of mercy 

1a : compassion or forbearance (see forbearance sense 1) 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

2a : a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion May God have mercy on us.

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

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Other Words from mercy

mercy adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for mercy

mercy, charity, clemency, grace, leniency mean a disposition to show kindness or compassion. mercy implies compassion that forbears punishing even when justice demands it. threw himself on the mercy of the court charity stresses benevolence and goodwill shown in broad understanding and tolerance of others. show a little charity for the less fortunate clemency implies a mild or merciful disposition in one having the power or duty of punishing. the judge refused to show clemency grace implies a benign attitude and a willingness to grant favors or make concessions. by the grace of God leniency implies lack of severity in punishing. criticized the courts for excessive leniency

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The bearded bikers in black leather knelt gently in the shrines and gazed up at images of Avalokiteshvara, a bodhisattva personifying infinite compassion and mercy. Lawrence Osborne, Town & Country, "Why Everyone Is Traveling to Bhutan," 30 Mar. 2015 Coconut Creek spread the wealth at the plate en route to its mercy rule outcome. Rick Menning,, "Plantation, Coconut Creek All-Stars win Little League sectional semifinal games," 14 July 2018 The game was stopped in the fourth inning by the mercy rule. Robert Avery, Houston Chronicle, "NASA-West 12s fall hard to Post Oak all-stars in Section 3 tournament," 7 July 2018 West Garden Grove held an 8-2 lead, meaning that the game could be clinched via the mercy-rule if the run at the plate came around to score. Andrew Turner,, "Home runs, heat do in Fountain Valley PONY against West Garden Grove," 7 July 2018 Ballard lost to Central Hardin on Thursday night before bouncing back with mercy rule wins against Pikeville and Boyle County in the first two rounds of the consolation bracket. Nate Bryan, The Courier-Journal, "Butler ends Ballard's season, advances to final six at state softball," 8 June 2018 Most of Capital Prep’s games are over after four and a half innings, due to the 10-run mercy rule. Mike Anthony,, "Hartford Baseball Teams Enjoy Big Stage Toward End Of Difficult Seasons," 22 May 2018 The Missouri softball team’s NCAA regional appearance opened with a mercy-rule loss. Aaron Reiss, kansascity, "Mizzou softball drops opening NCAA regional game against Tulsa Golden Hurricane | The Kansas City Star," 18 May 2018 Delmonte tacked on another run in the sixth inning and Nick Dinoto officially ended it in a mercy rule with a RBI double down the right field line. Kyle Mcfadden, Howard County Times, "Marriotts Ridge baseball shuts out Glenelg, advances to 2A South region final," 16 May 2018

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for mercy

Middle English, from Anglo-French merci, from Medieval Latin merced-, merces, from Latin, price paid, wages, from merc-, merx merchandise

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Statistics for mercy

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for mercy

The first known use of mercy was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for mercy



English Language Learners Definition of mercy

: 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


mer·​cy | \ˈmər-sē \
plural mercies

Kids Definition of mercy

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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on mercy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mercy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mercy

Spanish Central: Translation of mercy

Nglish: Translation of mercy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mercy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on mercy

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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