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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun If the director determines the objections merit a hearing, both Amazon and the RWDSU would be notified about when and where the hearing will take place. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "End of Alabama battle could be months away as union plots Amazon challenge," 15 Apr. 2021 Its subtext: money is no object and only a very few artists really merit attention. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "Dia Chelsea, Keeper of the Avant-Garde Flame," 15 Apr. 2021 An additional 67 allegations were determined to be unfounded, 41 ruled to have insufficient evidence to support them, 17 found to involve behavior by officers that did not merit discipline, and 10 closed after the officers were exonerated. Kevin Rector, Los Angeles Times, "LAPD rejecting most complaints against officers from summer protests; others still under review," 10 Apr. 2021 Investments in technology and internet companies, be it via stocks or directly, also merit focus by long-term investors in Latin America. Mayra Rodriguez Valladares, Forbes, "Look For Hidden Investment Gems In The Gloom And Doom About Latin America," 9 Apr. 2021 Bailey’s will be far from the final word on Roth, whose depictions of women and attitudes on race, for starters, arguably merit further discussion. Washington Post, "‘Philip Roth,’ by Blake Bailey, is a colorful, confident and uncompromising biographical triumph," 6 Apr. 2021 Cunningham and Costa's claim is the latest Amazon worker retaliation that the federal agency has found merit in. Sara Ashley O'brien, CNN, "Amazon illegally fired two employees, labor board finds," 5 Apr. 2021 While the season ended with an Outback Bowl loss to Ole Miss, many Hoosiers made enough plays to merit consideration by NFL teams. Jon Blau, The Indianapolis Star, "Hoosier Pro Day participants hope to shine for NFL scouts," 2 Apr. 2021 The board found merit to the allegations and filed a federal complaint against Amazon. NBC News, "Fired, interrogated, disciplined: Amazon warehouse organizers allege year of retaliation," 30 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Randle added nine rebounds and five assists in perhaps the best performance of a season that should merit All-Star consideration. Brian Mahoney, Star Tribune, "Randle scores 44 points, Knicks beat slumping Hawks 123-112," 15 Feb. 2021 In 2019, the country reached out to the International Monetary Fund for a rescue loan of $280 million, drawing criticism from rights groups that the country is too rich to merit the loan. Nicholas Bariyo, WSJ, "Equatorial Guinea Takes Stock After Giant Explosions," 8 Mar. 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.

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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

18 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Merit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for merit

Nglish: Translation of merit for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of merit for Arabic Speakers

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