mer·​it | \ ˈmer-ət How to pronounce merit (audio) , ˈme-rət \

Definition of merit

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a praiseworthy quality : virtue But originality, as it is one of the highest, is also one of the rarest, of merits.— Edgar Allan Poe
b : character or conduct deserving reward, honor, or esteem also : achievement … he composed a number of works of merit. — H. E. Starr
c : the qualities or actions that constitute the basis of one's deserts Opinions of his merit vary.
d obsolete : reward or punishment due
2a merits plural : the substance of a legal case apart from matters of jurisdiction, procedure, or form The plaintiff … is entitled to have its claim decided here on its merits.— T. M. Maddes
b : individual significance or justification (see justification sense 1) The contention is without merit.— E. B. Denny
3 : spiritual credit held to be earned by performance of righteous acts and to ensure future benefits .,. the Crusades … did serve the desire to gain spiritual merit— Jacques Barzun


merited; meriting; merits

Definition of merit (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to be worthy of or entitled or liable to : earn

intransitive verb

1 : deserve
2 obsolete : to be entitled to reward or honor

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Other Words from merit


meritless \ ˈmer-​ət-​ləs How to pronounce merit (audio) , ˈme-​rət-​ \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for merit

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

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Examples of merit in a Sentence

Noun She saw merit in both of the arguments. The study has no scientific merit. Verb Both ideas merit further consideration. These issues merit special attention. His good work merits a raise. She did well enough to merit a second interview. The attention she received was not merited.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Those two names alone merit rolling out the red carpet. Patrick Ryan, USA Today, 1 July 2021 Who the Louisville police merit board usually sides with Multiple people were detained for questioning, according to Mitchell, and Ruoff said police seized multiple guns. Mary Ramsey, The Courier-Journal, 30 June 2021 Moreover, once the Ivies start competing, that would stimulate other private and public schools that already provide merit awards of all types to enhance their aid packages. Robert Litan, The New Republic, 20 July 2021 Juror Deidre Argyle, assistant professor of sculpture at Missouri State University at Springfield, will announce prize winners at 5:30 p.m. July 22 including Best of Show, first place, second place, and three merit awards. Arkansas Online, 20 July 2021 Freyd challenged the university’s practice of awarding retention raises to professors who pursued offers at other institutions, without also increasing the salaries of other professors of comparable merit and seniority. oregonlive, 16 July 2021 In deciding whether to green-light certain vaping products, the FDA must decide their public health merit. Michael Nedelman, CNN, 14 July 2021 In the grandiloquent language of the law, the Most Junior Junior Assistant had stated that the appellant’s case was so utterly frivolous, so completely lacking in merit, that there was no need for the appellee to respond. New York Times, 14 July 2021 Their answer is to suppress merit—and deny seats to Asian-Americas in particular. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 14 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Allergies rarely merit a mention because, unlike grasses and many trees, sunflowers are pollinated by insects, not wind., 4 July 2021 As an elite and experienced player, that should merit enough to potentially have some sort of opportunity with any coaching staff. oregonlive, 30 June 2021 That might not merit full Disney+ documentary treatment, but for those even remotely interested in the topic, bon appétit. Brian Lowry, CNN, 25 June 2021 For the buyer only focused on price, quality doesn’t merit a premium. Andy Gole, Forbes, 18 June 2021 But those players would need to have standout training camps or starts to the season to merit a new deal before the 2021 season ends. Safid Deen,, 14 June 2021 It is presumed that F9 will open big enough in 2.5 weeks to merit a 31-day (or likely 36-day) theatrical window. Scott Mendelson, Forbes, 8 June 2021 Even if questions about COVID-19 seasonality are unresolved, Toner said there is enough evidence to merit a return to protective public health strategies in the fall. Jeremy Olson, Star Tribune, 4 June 2021 In Kyoto, brush making has all but disappeared — the remaining three fude shokunin are too few to merit dento kogei designation — but the city is known for its traditional arts and high culture. New York Times, 3 June 2021

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1c


1526, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for merit

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French merite, from Latin meritum, from neuter of meritus, past participle of merēre to deserve, earn; akin to Greek meiresthai to receive as one's portion, meros part

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Time Traveler for merit

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

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Statistics for merit

Last Updated

23 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Merit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Aug. 2021.

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More Definitions for merit



English Language Learners Definition of merit

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a good quality or feature that deserves to be praised
formal : the quality of being good, important, or useful : value or worth



English Language Learners Definition of merit (Entry 2 of 2)

: to deserve (something, such as attention or good treatment) by being important or good


mer·​it | \ ˈmer-ət How to pronounce merit (audio) \

Kids Definition of merit

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the condition or fact of deserving reward or punishment Students are graded according to merit.
2 : worth entry 2 sense 1, value "Your suggestion has merit," he said.— Lloyd Alexander, Time Cat
3 : a quality worthy of praise : virtue the merit of honesty


merited; meriting

Kids Definition of merit (Entry 2 of 2)

: to be worthy of or have a right to Both ideas merit further consideration.


mer·​it | \ ˈmer-ət How to pronounce merit (audio) \

Legal Definition of merit

1 plural : the substance of a case apart from matters of jurisdiction, procedure, or form a ruling on the merits of the case — see also judgment on the merits at judgment sense 1a
2 : legal significance, standing, or worth an argument without merit

More from Merriam-Webster on merit

Nglish: Translation of merit for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of merit for Arabic Speakers


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