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

2 obsolete : to be entitled to reward or honor

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Other Words from merit


meritless \ ˈmer-​ət-​ləs How to pronounce meritless (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 Carmen Chenal Horne, one of the lawyers representing Cook, argued the decision showed there was no merit to the case against the legislator. Andrew Oxford, The Arizona Republic, "No further action will be taken on complaints against Rep. Cook, House ethics committee chairman decides," 8 July 2020 Less certain are other Confederate objects of questionable artistic merit. Robert Draper, National Geographic, "Toppling statues is a first step toward ending Confederate myths," 2 July 2020 Pete Wilson, proponents hailed the law as marking a new era of equal opportunity where Californians would be judged only by their merit. Dustin Gardiner,, "California voters will be asked whether to repeal Prop. 209 ban on affirmative action," 24 June 2020 They were later adopted by circus strongmen as a means of proving their merit before eventually being adopted into weight lifting training, as well as other cardiovascular and flexibility training. Popular Science, "The best kettlebells for intense home workouts," 15 June 2020 On Monday, university president Thomas Evans elevated Duran to permanent athletic director — a decision validating Duran’s commitment to display his merit during the past 10 months. Greg Luca,, "After 10 months as interim, Richard Duran elevated to UIW’s permanent athletic director," 15 June 2020 The ad won a merit award from The One Show, an advertising, design and digital marketing award show in 2004. Ella Lee, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Photo of all-Black ER staff treating Klan member is an ad," 11 July 2020 If debts to the government merit an unwanted call, some justices reasoned, then political calls would have to be permitted. Richard Wolf, USA TODAY, "Supreme Court upholds law banning cellphone robocalls," 7 July 2020 These headlines may have merit, but perspective is also needed. Mark R. O'brian, The Conversation, "Retractions and controversies over coronavirus research show that the process of science is working as it should," 6 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Baltimore is still a year out from the window for Lamar Jackson extension talks opening, but there are several key players from last year's 14-2 team who merit large pay bumps before then. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "10 NFL stars next in line to land huge contracts: Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott on deck," 9 July 2020 In an interview with Fox Business correspondent Blake Burman, President Trump yesterday dismissed the reports of Russian bounties as a hoax that didn't merit his attention. Jamie Mcintyre, Washington Examiner, "House committee passes bipartisan $741 billion defense bill by unanimous vote," 2 July 2020 And so that's another one that might merit some considerations. CBS News, "Transcript: Scott Gottlieb discusses coronavirus on "Face the Nation," June 7, 2020," 7 June 2020 Ordinarily, a cluster of people in front of a city store would not merit the police’s attention. New York Times, "These N.Y.P.D. Officers Fight a Killer That Can’t Be Seen," 14 Apr. 2020 By 2016’s campaign memoir, Our Revolution, Sanders’s Jewishness merited two full paragraphs, including a mention of the Holocaust. Talia Lavin, The New Republic, "To Dream of a Jewish President," 13 Feb. 2020 The composer was Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975), and his music merited attention, then as now. Tim Page, Washington Post, "When classical music had a place on America’s political stage," 24 Jan. 2020 While there are clearly no guarantees in a COVID-19 world, sticking with the later start and later finish to the NBA season would merit consideration. Tom Moore, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Competing more with MLB makes sense for the NBA as it tries to shift seasons," 12 May 2020 In a normal year, Wanogho might merit a look for the only opening on the Eagles’ offensive line. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Prince Tega Wanogho hopes to inspire ‘kids back home’," 6 May 2020

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for merit

Last Updated

3 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Merit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for merit


How to pronounce merit (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on merit

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for merit

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with merit

Spanish Central: Translation of merit

Nglish: Translation of merit for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of merit for Arabic Speakers

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