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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Issues such as response times, program use by community members, 911 procedures and the categorization of which calls are assigned to receive the non-police response all merit further study before the program is expanded, the mayor’s office said. oregonlive, "Commissioner Dan Ryan supports slow, ‘methodical’ expansion of Portland Street Response program," 6 May 2021 But even when Talbot returned, Kahkonen continued to merit starts and deliver results. Sarah Mclellan, Star Tribune, "Kaapo Kahkonen continues strong rookie season, backstops Wild in playoff-clinching win," 24 Apr. 2021 While these myocarditis cases do merit further investigation, such news alone isn’t reason to sound alarm bells. Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes, "Are Rare Cases Of Myocarditis Linked To Pfizer, Moderna Covid-19 Vaccines?," 27 Apr. 2021 Her bristles about the press and her image don’t always lack merit. Philip Elliott, Time, "Cindy McCain Opens Up — On Her Terms," 27 Apr. 2021 This pardon is not sought based on merit or worthiness. Jake Dima, Washington Examiner, "Legal group requests pardon for George Floyd related to 2004 drug offense," 26 Apr. 2021 Burks increase is in line with trustees’ recent decision to limit non-union, employee merit increases to no more than four percent. Sue Kiesewetter, The Enquirer, "West Chester township administrator to get a pay increase," 24 Apr. 2021 Keynes was a white man of privilege making money in an unfair system in which merit was an illusion. WSJ, "John Maynard Keynes, Old White Male Conservative?," 21 Apr. 2021 Schlock will do its best to fill the void, but artistic merit can’t be allowed to trump human decency in a collaborative art form. Los Angeles Times, "Commentary: Is Scott Rudin’s apology enough? A new era demands more," 18 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb December 16, 2011 - Manning’s Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing that will determine whether enough evidence exists to merit a court-martial, begins. Cnn Editorial Research, CNN, "WikiLeaks Fast Facts," 26 Apr. 2021 Between now and June 16, Cahill must decide whether there were aggravating factors that could merit a prison term above state sentencing guidelines. Chao Xiong, Star Tribune, "Derek Chauvin sentencing set for June 16; juror names sealed for at least 6 months," 23 Apr. 2021 Tinkle felt the day after the Arizona loss that Lucas’ game had come far enough in other areas — defense, playing off the ball on offense — to merit an opportunity. oregonlive, "Oregon State sharpshooter Jarod Lucas finds a home on defense, and Beavers are thriving because of it," 24 Mar. 2021 Quinton Spain did enough in nine games to merit another contract in Cincinnati. Tyler Dragon, The Enquirer, "Sources: Bengals signing guard Quinton Spain, cornerback Eli Apple to one-year deals," 23 Mar. 2021 Donarski was a unanimous selection to the All-Freshman team and garnered enough votes to merit the top freshman honor for a squad that went 16-9 heading into the league tournament. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "These Wisconsin high school alumni earned all-conference accolades in Division I basketball," 13 Mar. 2021 Officials like ex-US Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund and the then-House sergeant-at-arms were asked why such a warning didn't merit a stronger response and why a request for National Guard assistance was so slow to be answered. Aj Willingham, CNN, "5 things to know for February 24: Covid, Capitol riot, Rochester, White House, China," 24 Feb. 2021 O’Malley’s office also determined a Cuyahoga County corrections officer who stomped on an inmate’s arm and then filed false reports about it in August 2018 did not merit a felony charge. Cory Shaffer, cleveland, "Cuyahoga County prosecutors declined to prosecute Cleveland police officer for May 30 conduct, letter reveals," 18 Mar. 2021 There was no first-place finish, no winning streak that would merit an audience with the editor. Barbara Vandenburgh, USA TODAY, "'The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee': Absorbing bio details dismantles myths surrounding Marvel comics icon," 18 Feb. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about merit

Time Traveler for merit

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for merit

Last Updated

12 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Merit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

More from Merriam-Webster on merit

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!