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

In their world, the president is presented not just as the least-worst political option whose merits outweigh his flaws, but as a man assigned by God to restore America to its divinely set course, and therefore almost above human criticism. The Economist, "When American evangelicals fall out," 5 July 2019 Richards needs to improve his production as a junior to merit being mentioned alongside former No. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "Who wore it better? Current Kentucky basketball players carry history in jersey numbers," 3 July 2019 By merit, the team that should have advanced to the final was Argentina,’’ Scaloni said. Mauricio Savarese,, "Brazil without Neymar beats Argentina with Messi in Copa America semifinal," 3 July 2019 Frazer said the task force won’t be asked to pick proposals or vendors but to determine if projects have merit to move forward for potential state grant funding. Jim Turner,, "Think you can solve the toxic algae problem in Florida? Share your strategy with the state.," 2 July 2019 Gauff can play five more pro events before turning 16 next March, although a further merit increase of two tournaments is possible. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "Keeping Cori Gauff Healthy and Sane," 2 July 2019 The Fenerbahce captain had another great season in 2018/19 and probably merits a move based on his reliability and solidity in defence., "Turkish Super Lig: 6 Players Who Could Play in the Premier League & Which Clubs They Would Suit," 27 June 2019 Indeed, there are merits and drawbacks on both sides of the equation. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Southern Living, "Should You Sign Your Marriage License Before Your Big Day?," 26 June 2019 Buttigieg reportedly declined to release a report by the Indiana State Police, who investigated, but said the incident didn't merit discipline. Erin Donaghue, CBS News, "Angry South Bend residents blasted Pete Buttigieg at a town hall. Here is why," 24 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 With the final game of the NBA season in the books, speculation season has headed into overdrive, careening to the point where Dion Waiters-to-the-Warriors has merited ESPN speculation. Ira Winderman,, "ESPN links Heat’s Dion Waiters as trade option for Warriors’ voids," 15 June 2019 Michael Friess, whose unparalleled coaching success at UAA filled the school’s trophy cases and merited 49 coach-of-the-year awards in track and cross country, is retiring after 29 years. Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News, "After 29 years and 178 All-Americans, UAA running coach Michael Friess calls it a career," 4 June 2019 All three players provided correct responses, and Boettcher ended up with $46,801—not quite a Holzhauer-esque score, but enough for a commanding victory (and one that merited a high five from Holzhauer). Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic, "How James Holzhauer Finally Lost," 3 June 2019 Late in the play, someone notes that the death of one of the last family members merits a mere three-minute silence. Gerard Baker, WSJ, "On Stage, a Capitalist Morality Tale With Questions for Today," 19 Oct. 2018 But the clothes, Mr. Lauren at his Americana finest, merited attention, too. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "At a Celeb-Filled 50th Anniversary Show, Ralph Lauren Was Back on Top, Doubters Be Damned," 10 Sep. 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

9 Jul 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

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