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

2 obsolete : to be entitled to reward or honor

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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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Both points have merit, and the decision is purely a personal one. The Editors, Field & Stream, "Three Things To Know Before You Buy Hummingbird Feed (Nectar)," 12 May 2020 There’s merit, of course, in exploring the good and bad in every man, even one as notorious as this one; Capone, in the end, just settles for ugly. Leah Greenblatt,, "Tom Hardy acts hard in muddled late-life gangster biopic Capone: Review," 11 May 2020 Other cuts include suspension of merit pay, employer retirement match and tuition reimbursement. David Jesse, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan Medicine to furlough workers, halt construction on new hospital," 5 May 2020 Perspective, the perils that hubris invites, the merits of courage, and the possibilities and limits of human endeavor come to mind as the key points drilled into my otherwise pretty empty teenaged head. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "COVID Cash for the Arts: Where to Start," 2 May 2020 Learning new facts and techniques may have a great deal of merit. oregonlive, "Horoscope for April 30, 2020: Happy birthday Ana de Armas; Aquarius, keep better track of your money," 30 Apr. 2020 Error 0: The award is specifically given to students who exhibit outstanding qualities in scholastic merit, musicianship, and citizenship in their school and community during the 2019-2020 school year. David Taylor, Houston Chronicle, "Liberty HS students awarded state music award," 27 Apr. 2020 Lilly’s experts concluded that BenevolentAI’s hypotheses had merit, particularly the notion that the drug might dampen Covid-19’s dangerous cytokine storms. Tom Simonite, Wired, "AI Uncovers a Potential Treatment for Covid-19 Patients," 17 Apr. 2020 The merits of capitalism, democratic systems of government and globalization are likely to come under intense scrutiny. Charles Riley, CNN, "30 days that brought the world to the brink of a depression," 21 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb While there are clearly no guarantees in a COVID-19 world, sticking with the later start and later finish to the NBA season would merit consideration. Tom Moore, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Competing more with MLB makes sense for the NBA as it tries to shift seasons," 12 May 2020 In a normal year, Wanogho might merit a look for the only opening on the Eagles’ offensive line. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Prince Tega Wanogho hopes to inspire ‘kids back home’," 6 May 2020 None of the five straight baskets or the seven makes in eight tries individually merit a permanent place in the memory of Wisconsin Badgers fans. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "50 in 50: Badgers rally to beat Oregon before a frenzied Bradley Center crowd," 18 Apr. 2020 Yes, the current state of affairs merited the Browns keeping this reveal understated, but keeping it simple was the plan all along. Dan Labbe, cleveland, "Browns new uniforms get it right with classic look," 15 Apr. 2020 Should any other Cowboys have merited consideration? Calvin Watkins, Dallas News, "Cowboys roundtable: How much will missing the start of offseason workouts impact Dallas?," 7 Apr. 2020 In normal times such scenes would hardly merit a mention. The Economist, "An uneasy normality South Korea keeps covid-19 at bay without a total lockdown," 30 Mar. 2020 But precious few developers merit an SEC filing on their departure. Dan Gallagher, WSJ, "Why Take-Two Sometimes Takes Forever," 9 Feb. 2020 And those kinds of comments don’t merit off-the-record protections. Eric Todisco,, "Female Reporter Alleges Charles Barkley Told Her 'I Don't Hit Women, But if I Did I'd Hit You'," 20 Nov. 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 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

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Time Traveler for merit

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for merit

Last Updated

27 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Merit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for merit


How to pronounce merit (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for merit

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with merit

Spanish Central: Translation of merit

Nglish: Translation of merit for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of merit for Arabic Speakers

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