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

On Tuesday, the county merit board will hear a case involving Mahalich. Annie Sciacca, The Mercury News, "‘We failed this family’: California prosecutor blasts justice reform laws, politicians, at end of murder case," 10 Aug. 2019 LaPierre also argued against the bill's merits, the officials said. Author: Josh Dawsey, Seung Min Kim, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump’s openness to extensive background checks for gun buys draws warning from NRA," 8 Aug. 2019 Bilski said swimming, canoeing and horseback riding merit badges are popular in Troop 105. Rachel K. Hindery,, "As girls enter Boy Scouts, first girls’ troop in Park Ridge enjoys camping, badges, opportunities," 5 Aug. 2019 This week, at least, let’s hope they merit at least a question. Alex Ward, Vox, "The case for more foreign policy in the 2020 debates," 30 July 2019 Doing something to merit inclusion in this national family is more than doing nothing to merit inclusion in this national family. Nr Staff, National Review, "The Ungrateful among Us," 19 July 2019 Some Democrats fear that such an outcome would be seized on by Trump as vindication that the effort was merit-less and give him a victory heading into the 2020 election. Ledyard King, USA TODAY, "Majority of House Democrats now back a Trump impeachment inquiry, adding pressure to Nancy Pelosi to act," 3 Aug. 2019 Each of these issues merit a full debate on their own. Alex Ward, Vox, "The case for more foreign policy in the 2020 debates," 30 July 2019 The standards are the same for both genders to earn merit badges. Krista Torralva,, "San Antonio girls, aiming for Eagle Scout, break the gender barrier at camp," 30 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

One ingredient, however, proved unique enough to merit further experimentation. Paul Stephen,, "Holy guacamole are avocados expensive! Here are 4 other green dips," 24 July 2019 But Cannon said the current charges are too severe to merit bond. Erin Schilling, ajc, "Cherokee County woman denied bond in husband’s murder," 17 July 2019 But the judge said neither incident was serious enough to merit a reprimand or, ultimately, being fired. Hugo Martin,, "A judge orders Terranea to rehire a cook who spoke out in favor of unionizing," 2 July 2019 But the four panels of officers charged with reviewing the cases, known as boards of inquiry, ruled that the men’s conduct was not severe enough to merit expulsion. Megan Rose, ProPublica, "Trump Keeps Talking About the Last Military Standoff With Iran — Here’s What Really Happened," 24 June 2019 Don’t be intimidated by the possible outcomes, but do think carefully about whether the job matters enough to you to merit this activity. Amy Lindgren, Twin Cities, "Working Strategies: Bad bosses part 2 — getting out of hot water," 22 June 2019 Around this time, Mr. Bartholomew also met Chudd, of Imperial Records, who, Coleman said, asked him to find people whose talents merited recording. John Pope,, "Dave Bartholomew, New Orleans composer who helped create rock ‘n’ roll, dies at 100," 23 June 2019 The question before the justices: Can a judge, rather than a jury, decide what facts merit a new sentence? Richard Wolf, USA TODAY, "Supreme Court rules for sex offender in child pornography case testing power of judges, juries," 19 June 2019 The ordinance was enacted in 1967 following violent riots that year against British colonial rule, and penalizes a number of offences related to unlawful assembly, with rioting and damage caused while rioting meriting the most severe punishments. Isabella Steger, Quartz, "The problem with calling Hong Kong’s protests a riot goes back to a colonial-era law," 16 June 2019

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

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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Statistics for merit

Last Updated

20 Aug 2019

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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
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with merit

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for merit

Spanish Central: Translation of merit

Nglish: Translation of merit for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of merit for Arabic Speakers

Comments on merit

What made you want to look up merit? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a usually brief trip or an expedition

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