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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun On Tuesday, a five-member panel of judges from Malaysia’s Federal Court concluded that Najib’s appeal was without merit and that the original High Court decision had been correct. Adam Taylor, Washington Post, 23 Aug. 2022 The underlying proposition to Marvel's Disney+ series has hinged on the opportunity to feature stories, characters and tones that wouldn't have the weight or appeal to carry a big-screen incarnation, again, an approach not without merit. Brian Lowry, CNN, 17 Aug. 2022 Belichick’s explanation certainly has merit but is perhaps too rosy. Ben Volin,, 5 Sep. 2022 If such accusations had merit, there would be cause for concern. Wayne Winegarden, Forbes, 17 Aug. 2022 The idea that the end of fireweed displays means the summer is coming to an end has some merit, however. Jeff Lowenfels, Anchorage Daily News, 11 Aug. 2022 No court has found those claims to have merit, and many local, state and federal officials have said there is no evidence of vote manipulation in the 2020 election. Amy Gardner, Washington Post, 12 June 2022 Complaints filed with the labor board are investigated by regional offices and, if found to have merit and not settled, can be prosecuted by the agency’s general counsel and heard by administrative law judges. Fortune, 4 June 2022 Some of the protests have merit, but the vast majority do not. Scott D. Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 22 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But then, crickets: Since June, there has been just one relatively weak hurricane (Bonnie) and two tropical storms large enough to merit a name (Alex and Colin). Tim Mcdonnell, Quartz, 30 Aug. 2022 The bad news is the NBA doesn’t consider the Bulls viable enough to merit a game on Christmas, the biggest day of the regular season. Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune, 17 Aug. 2022 Wilner returned to court to argue that constitutional rights weren’t required to merit due process. Jordan Michael Smith, The New Republic, 6 July 2022 Judge Friedrich, however, questioned why Mr. Reffitt would merit the terrorism enhancement when many other rioters engaged in violence and made similarly disturbing threats. Michael Kunzelman, The Christian Science Monitor, 2 Aug. 2022 Spending one too many nights with an uncomfortable sleep setup is enough to merit a complete overhaul. Dale Arden Chong, Men's Health, 22 Apr. 2022 The number of changes, shuffles, openings and closings that have happened among his Underbelly Hospitality restaurant group in the past few months is enough to merit its own confused math lady meme. Emma Balter, Chron, 22 Apr. 2022 Students who merit it not only have displayed a high standard of academic excellence, but have also made significant contributions to the community. Seamus Webster,, 29 June 2022 This existential business scenario should merit the informed attention of any board member, which means committing to increasing cybersecurity knowledge. Sharon Wagner, Forbes, 1 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

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


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


Middle French meriter, from merite merit entry 1

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

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Last Updated

21 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Merit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for merit


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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