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mer·​it ˈmer-ət How to pronounce merit (audio)
plural merits
: a praiseworthy quality : virtue
But originality, as it is one of the highest, is also one of the rarest, of merits.Edgar Allan Poe
: character or conduct deserving reward, honor, or esteem
also : achievement
… he composed a number of works of merit. H. E. Starr
: a person's qualities, actions, etc. regarded as indicating what the person deserves to receive
Opinions of his merit vary.
Admissions officers judge one's merit by looking at one's past accomplishments and circumstances. But merit is not just about one's past—it is about one's future potential.Michelle I. Gao
obsolete : reward or punishment due
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
: individual significance or justification (see justification sense 1)
The contention is without merit.E. B. Denny
: 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 meritJacques Barzun
ˈmer-ət-ləs How to pronounce merit (audio)


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merited; meriting; merits

transitive verb

: to be worthy of or entitled or liable to : earn

intransitive verb

obsolete : to be entitled to reward or honor

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
And in April, a court ordered Vidal’s arbitration proceedings to be paused while his civil case proceeds, the court finding, among other things, that Vidal’s claim under the federal trafficking law had merit. Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein, New York Times, 20 Nov. 2023 At the same time, reporters and editors engaged in intensive discussions over the merits of publishing disturbing photographs and videos. Sally Buzbee, Washington Post, 16 Nov. 2023 All of this being said, will bosses change their tune on the merits of in-person work? Jane Thier, Fortune, 14 Nov. 2023 The tech company rolled out its search engine in 1998 and competed on its merits with early search leaders like Yahoo or AskJeeves to become the world's favorite search engine. Ashley Belanger, Ars Technica, 14 Nov. 2023 However, that’s not to say that there aren’t merits to powders. Alyssa Brascia, Peoplemag, 12 Nov. 2023 Friday's order is not a decision on the merits of the gag order Chutkan issued last month, but is meant to give the appeals court more time to consider the arguments in the case. Robert Legare, CBS News, 3 Nov. 2023 The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Tuesday had dismissed an appeal on that issue without reviewing the merits of the argument, saying the claim should have been raised previously. CBS News, 9 Nov. 2023 The merits aside, there is no electoral upside to this for Republicans — a Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis would presumably run stronger against Biden, without blighting the GOP brand. The Editors, National Review, 9 Nov. 2023
But either way, his ouster feels momentous, and, given that, his last appearance as OpenAI’s CEO merits attention. Bysteve Mollman, Fortune, 19 Nov. 2023 With the release of her memoir last month, Spears joins a roll call of pop-culture figures with narratives to reclaim—and perhaps the schoolgirl, too, merits a moment of reconsideration. Molly Fischer, The New Yorker, 13 Nov. 2023 Luton, in particular, appears to be coming to grips with the exigencies of Premier League soccer at considerable speed, as last week’s (more than merited) draw with Liverpool illustrated. Rory Smith, New York Times, 10 Nov. 2023 Each of the five villages merits a wander through the historic center and up along the tangle of paths that lead to clandestine eateries. Kasia Dietz, Condé Nast Traveler, 20 Oct. 2023 Investors can't decide if the Federal Reserve is done raising rates, or whether the economy is running hot enough to merit a further increase in borrowing costs. WSJ, 18 Oct. 2023 Still, the fact that Ramaswamy merited any oppo prep says a lot about the field. Time, 25 Aug. 2023 There’s also a sense from the current FCC that times have changed enough to merit revisiting the issue. IEEE Spectrum, 10 Oct. 2023 In Dubai, this is legal because the courts automatically allow any appeal, whether the claims are merited or not. Rayna Reid Rayford, Essence, 3 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'merit.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1b


1526, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of merit was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near merit

Cite this Entry

“Merit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
mer·​it ˈmer-ət How to pronounce merit (audio)
: the qualities or actions that determine one's worthiness of reward or punishment
were rewarded according to merit
: a quality worthy of praise : virtue
the merit of honesty
: worth entry 2 sense 2, value
your idea has great merit
: individual significance or justification
the accusation is without merit
meritless adjective


2 of 2 verb
: to earn by service or performance : deserve

Legal Definition


mer·​it ˈmer-ət How to pronounce merit (audio)
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
: legal significance, standing, or worth
an argument without merit

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