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

People who’ve got there on their own merits and have risen through the ranks of education and hard work and now have captured those benefits, and people are left behind. Eric Johnson, Recode, "We have to rewrite antitrust law to deal with tech monopolies, says ‘Positive Populism’ author Steve Hilton," 24 Oct. 2018 Olivia complained to the university in 2015, but was found to be without merit. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "Women Speak Out About Former Northwestern Professor Alec Klein's Alleged Sexual Harassment," 23 Aug. 2018 This kind of absent-mindedness can have its merits, writes astrologer Vivienne Micallef-Browne., "Neptune Retrograde Is Coming, So Maybe We Can Finally Chill Out," 15 June 2018 Dewan’s spotlight has gotten stronger, but on her own merits. Margaret Wappler, Harper's BAZAAR, "Jenna Dewan's New Dawn," 29 May 2018 Law enforcement determines which of those reports merit a full investigation, typically fewer than half. Bridget Read, Vogue, "At Burning Man, #MeToo Is More Complicated Than You Think," 28 Aug. 2018 All together, those changes work with the merits of the stock platform to create a vehicle that’s not only unstoppable off-road, but actually pretty decent on it, too. Wes Siler, Outside Online, "This Old Land Rover Is the Best Road-Trip Truck," 1 July 2018 Here’s the back story according to Bervine, who notes that Galanti was SEPTA’s 2012 Officer of the Year and has received two commendations of merit: In 2015, K-9 officers were directed to update their uniforms and wear the same-style jackets. Stu Bykofsky,, "The story behind a SEPTA cop and K-9's separation | Stu Bykofsky," 9 Apr. 2018 The Harvard study has a lot of merit in this regard. WSJ, "Different Choices Lead to Different Incomes," 29 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Scott Beaumont, Google’s head of operations in China and one of the key architects of Dragonfly, did not view Zunger’s concerns as significant enough to merit a change of course, according to four people who worked on the project. Casey Newton, The Verge, "A looming strike over Project Dragonfly is putting new pressure on Google," 30 Nov. 2018 Doing it with a car that must perform and handle well, one that can merit a warranty and that can be assembled at reasonable cost is, well, trickier. Jack Stewart, WIRED, "The Engineers Turning an Old Volvo Concept Into a $155,000 Hybrid," 18 June 2018 Cole Hamels will merit consideration based on his numbers but also his reputation. Jeff Wilson, star-telegram, "Rangers Reaction: Profar has been better, but here's why Odor will play," 17 June 2018 England finally got the second goal their performance had merited as Alli exchanged passes with Rose before finding the head of Welbeck, who couldn't miss with the goal gaping., "WATCH: Rashford, Welbeck Give England World Cup Sendoff Win Over Costa Rica," 7 June 2018 Molina's time was fourth-best across four divisions and merited him a berth to the Masters Meet. Andrew J. Campa,, "St. Francis' Molina flies to two CIF track and field championships," 20 May 2018 With four more wins, the 2018 Red Sox would merit a mention among the greatest teams of all time. Brian Costa, WSJ, "Red Sox Concerns Fade as They Roll Into the World Series," 19 Oct. 2018 The baseline would be used to see if any abrupt spikes or dips in the biometric data merit a response from Walmart's staff. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Walmart Files Patent For Carts That Track Your Heart Rate," 10 Oct. 2018 However, the majority of both groups thought the movies merited a higher minimum-viewer age. Rita Giordano,, "Gun violence at the movies is so bad, parents think the PG-13 rating isn't tough enough," 14 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

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

8 Jan 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

: 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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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

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marked by shyness and lack of polish

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