mer·it | \ˈmer-ət, ˈme-rət\

Definition of merit 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a obsolete : reward or punishment due

b : the qualities or actions that constitute the basis of one's deserts Opinions of his merit vary.

c : a praiseworthy quality : virtue but originality, as it is one of the highest, is also one of the rarest, of merits— E. A. Poe

d : character or conduct deserving reward, honor, or esteem also : achievement composed a number of works of merit — H. E. Starr

2 : 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

3a 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


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 obsolete : to be entitled to reward or honor

2 : deserve

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Other Words from merit


meritless \-ləs \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for merit

Synonyms: Noun

cardinal virtue, distinction, excellence, excellency, grace, value, virtue

Synonyms: Verb

deserve, earn, rate

Antonyms: Noun

deficiency, demerit, disvalue

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Examples of merit in a Sentence


She saw merit in both of the arguments. The study has no scientific merit.


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

The lawsuit against Stine Seed Company is without merit and factually unsupportable. Scott Berson, charlotteobserver, "Black farmers were sold ‘weaponized’ seed, and racism may be to blame, lawsuit says," 11 July 2018 Crawford climbs the ladder from chorus girl to Broadway star while debating the relative merits of suitors Clark Gable and Franchot Tone. Patrick Friel, Chicago Reader, "Dance / Film / On Video Joan Crawford shines in five Hollywood classics," 26 June 2018 Halfway through Incredibles 2, Elastigirl and Evelyn debate the merits of two different philosophies: cynicism and optimism. David Sims, The Atlantic, "What Incredibles 2 Says About Hero Worship," 20 June 2018 Previously: O'Connell says there is no merit to defamation suit filed by outspoken critic O'Connell spokesman Josh Abner, did not immediately return a request for comment. Thomas Novelly, The Courier-Journal, "Deleted video shows county attorney correcting 'sexual predator' remark," 15 June 2018 Fleetcor has said that there’s no merit to his allegations. Polina Marinova, Fortune, "Term Sheet -- Thursday, June 14," 14 June 2018 The Justice Department has stated in court filings that Kincaid’s discrimination and retaliation claims are without merit. Neil Weinberg,, "Federal Employees Face Hurdles Pursuing Sexual Harassment Claims," 13 June 2018 Combine the looming nasty immigration fight with a brutal spending fight, and there's some merit to having someone not gunning for a future leadership position out front to take the inevitable hits from the base (and likely the President). Phil Mattingly, CNN, "Why it's been a rough week for House Republicans," 22 May 2018 AeroVironment released this statement on the lawsuit: AeroVironment believes the complaint contains baseless legal claims that are without merit. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Drone Company Allegedly Brings Bomb on Plane, Fires Whistleblower Employee," 18 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office declined to comment when asked whether a broader investigation were merited. Peter Smith,, "Victims' advocates: Abuse not just a 'Catholic problem'," 25 June 2018 But inconveniently, most calls — at least most calls where there’d be sufficient dispute to merit an instant-replay review — really could go either way. Will Leitch, Daily Intelligencer, "The Case Against Instant Replay — All Instant Replay," 5 June 2018 But Lamar's selection was merited and meaningful, said Regina Carter, chair of the Pulitzer's five-member music jury. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, "Pulitzer jurist Regina Carter: Kendrick Lamar's hip-hop work 'really powerful'," 20 Apr. 2018 David Wagner admitted that Crystal Palace's win over his Huddersfield team on Saturday was fully merited, as the Terriers slipped to a damaging home defeat., "David Wagner Admits Crystal Palace Deserved Win Over Huddersfield on Saturday," 18 Mar. 2018 Seems that might merit some NBA Coach of the Year consideration for Brad Stevens. Scott Horner, Indianapolis Star, "Brad Stevens wouldn't vote for himself over any other NBA coach," 9 May 2018 And in that beat, which often merits a front-page story, the beat is that President Trump is an aberrant president. Callum Borchers, Washington Post, "Trump book author Michael Wolff made a damaging admission on the 'Today' show," 5 Jan. 2018 His very first basketball team won the Akron recreational league championship, which merited a brief article in the local newspaper. Ben Cohen, WSJ, "LeBron James Takes His Talents to the Los Angeles Lakers," 1 July 2018 At Masters, Molina missed a state berth in the 110 hurdles with an eighth-place time of 14.95, but punched his ticket with a state at-large mark of 6-6 in the high jump, which merited him fifth place. Andrew J. Campa,, "State track meet awaits for final four local standouts," 30 May 2018

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 1a


1526, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for merit


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


see merit entry 1

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Phrases Related to merit

on merit

on one's own merits

Statistics for merit

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for merit

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

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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

: 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 \

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 \

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

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Comments on merit

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a generally accepted meaning of a word

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