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 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

Forman also denies that the anti-Semitism accusations against Farage, the Brexit Party chief, have any merit. Cnaan Liphshiz,, "A Brexit Party politician owns London’s oldest smoked salmon factory," 11 Sep. 2019 An investigation prompted by the grievance determined that his complaints about his supervisor had merit. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego paying out $565K to settle religious discrimination case," 9 Sep. 2019 In siding with Abella, Chief Justice Beverley Marian McLachlin, who was on the other side from Abella in the Hutterite case, basically conceded that the view of her fellow jurist had merit. David Shribman, Los Angeles Times, "Revered from left and right, she’ll soon be Canada’s longest-serving judge," 26 Aug. 2019 Disney, in a statement to Fortune, denied the claims had any merit. Erik Sherman, Fortune, "What We Know So Far About the Whistleblower Allegations at Disney," 20 Aug. 2019 Telescope officials said the challenge has no merit and is another delay tactic. Time, "Hawaiian Elders Arrested at Telescope Protests," 18 July 2019 Jaime Buege, the director of public affairs and communications at St. John's Northwestern, said the claims against the academy were thoroughly investigated and found to have no merit. Evan Frank, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A Florida family says lax supervision led to assault at St. John's Northwestern Military Academy. Now they're suing.," 16 July 2019 But Lazonick felt that, given how little companies were investing in their workers and infrastructure, this argument had little merit. Sheelah Kolhatkar, The New Yorker, "The Economist Who Put Stock Buybacks in Washington’s Crosshairs," 20 June 2019 Some would argue that in a time of anti-choice legislation, a time of Brexit, a time of Trump that beauty has no merit because beauty can’t save us. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "“I Really Feel Quite Lucky”—Sarah Burton Reflects on Her Magical Career at Alexander McQueen," 30 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The same for Quadry Jones, the redshirt freshman from Jones High School, who is also talented enough to merit playing time. Mike Bianchi,, "Why UCF should stick with Dillon Gabriel as starting QB against Stanford | Commentary," 30 Aug. 2019 AP Photo/LM Otero As the Trump administration continues to gut environmental protections, the killing of an endangered whooping crane is still egregious enough to merit federal prosecution. Justin Rohrlich, Quartz, "What kind of animal would shoot a whooping crane?," 29 Aug. 2019 Those have to be merited -- through the course of the season, through the course of games. Ira Winderman,, "ASK IRA: Will Erik Spoelstra be discriminating with age?," 26 Aug. 2019 The Boston prosecutors continued their investigation, more convinced than ever that the RBS conduct merited a criminal charge. Jesse Eisinger, ProPublica, "How Trump’s Political Appointees Overruled Tougher Settlements With Big Banks," 4 Aug. 2019 Those advocates also expressed concerns that the families who were ordered deported in their absence from court may have not been properly informed about their court date and could merit having their cases reopened. Daniella Silva, NBC News, "ICE arrests 35 in operation targeting 2,000 migrants with deportation orders," 23 July 2019 One ingredient, however, proved unique enough to merit further experimentation. Paul Stephen,, "Holy guacamole are avocados expensive! Here are 4 other green dips," 24 July 2019 But Cannon said the current charges are too severe to merit bond. Erin Schilling, ajc, "Cherokee County woman denied bond in husband’s murder," 17 July 2019 But the judge said neither incident was serious enough to merit a reprimand or, ultimately, being fired. Hugo Martin,, "A judge orders Terranea to rehire a cook who spoke out in favor of unionizing," 2 July 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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Statistics for merit

Last Updated

17 Sep 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

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).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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