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 But over the Zoom court hearing today, Twitter’s lawyers argued that Musk’s claims are not only without merit but also a stalling tactic. Scott Nover, Quartz, 19 July 2022 Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for the company, said in a statement to The Washington Post that those allegations were without merit. Teo Armus, Washington Post, 21 June 2022 Some customer complaints are without merit; they can be denied by the arbitration panel. Julie Jason, Jd, Forbes, 16 June 2022 According to the city's release Wednesday, state law requires Bickel keep his position in the Carmel Police department and his merit rank until the Carmel Police Merit Board makes a decision on his employment. Brittany Carloni, The Indianapolis Star, 20 July 2022 In response to the notice of dismissal, Sponsel’s lawyers plan to appeal to a merit board about Ahler’s report. Miguel Torres, The Arizona Republic, 7 July 2022 Preston will receive a 3% merit increase to $168,047.49 at the start of fiscal 2023 that begins Friday, Sowers said. Michael R. Wickline, Arkansas Online, 29 June 2022 All Eagle Scouts must successfully organize and fulfill a service project that benefits their school, church or community, in addition to holding several leadership positions and earning at least 21 merit badges. Laura Groch, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 June 2022 Ten additional artists won merit awards for their submissions. Kaitlyn Bancroft, The Salt Lake Tribune, 15 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Then on Tuesday evening, CNN indicated that the contents were serious enough to merit a suspension. Brian Stelter, CNN, 4 Dec. 2021 The pure hatred on his face when Hader’s Barry demands Gene’s love and loyalty might be all Winkler needs to merit another Emmy. Los Angeles Times, 1 June 2022 However, 32% of the share of venture capital deals by volume were deals that were below $1 million – showing that a large portion of African startups are either too small to merit large ticket sizes or struggle to access funding. Tom Collins, Quartz, 25 Apr. 2022 Importantly, the collar does not seem to have discouraged Teddy from barking in circumstances that genuinely merit it. Wes Siler, Outside Online, 25 Apr. 2020 So is the outcry from myopic music fans who have loudly maintained that hip-hop artists do not merit inclusion in an institution called the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 May 2022 The 100 tongue-in-cheek trophies, which were priced at $1,000 apiece, have since been snapped up by collectors—who did very little to merit them. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 9 May 2022 These allegations merit further investigation by the Commission. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, 10 Mar. 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

4 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Merit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 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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