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

But the way that both camps have sought to exploit these differences suggests that Breed and the board are fighting more over politics than the merits of their respective measures. Dominic Fracassa,, "Can mayor and SF supervisors make nice to build more affordable housing?," 21 June 2019 There’s no catchphrase more indelible than the image of Sen. Bernie Sanders arguing the merits of democratic socialism, hair a mess, tie askew. Lorraine Ali,, "Why reality TV has nothing on the Democratic debates," 21 June 2019 Setting aside the merits of her proposals, her focus on policy is clever politics, and unusual. The Economist, "Elizabeth Warren, saviour of capitalism," 21 June 2019 Defending social-media companies from government overreach is not the same thing as defending the merits of their moderation choices. David French, National Review, "Josh Hawley’s Internet Censorship Bill Is an Unwise, Unconstitutional Mess," 20 June 2019 The case is ongoing, and the agreement does not indicate any position about the merits of the case, said Alvin Thornton, chairman of the Prince George’s school board. Susan Svrluga, Washington Post, "Students from low-income families who brought lawsuit won’t have to pay for summer school in Prince George’s this year," 18 June 2019 Despite the environmental merits of his measure, the optics for France’s young president were poor. Stephen Paduano, The New Republic, "The Limits of Outrage Politics," 13 June 2019 For one, Oklahoma is a bench trial, which means a judge will be deciding the merits of the case, not a jury. Ellen Florian, Fortune, "J&J Called a 'Kingpin' in Opioid Case That Could Be a Test for 1,600 More Lawsuits," 7 June 2019 Mike Florio and Chris Simms of NBC Sports recently debated the merits of Miller’s Pass Rush Summit and their comments were hardly flattering. Kyle Fredrickson, The Denver Post, "Von Miller responds to critics of his Pass Rush Summit," 4 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 The artist—and some fans of his—remark that this was merited because the Fearless Girl was commissioned as PR by a Wall Street firm to promote gender diversity. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "How to be Fearless in the Face of a Pissing Pug," 1 June 2017 That alone should have been a signal that the painting merited additional scrutiny, Mr. Dreyfus said. Colin Moynihan, New York Times, "Did Christie’s Do Its Homework? Buyer of Nazi-Tainted Work Says No," 3 June 2018 The thinking inside the organization is that the improvement shown in the past week, in particular, by 19-year-old shortstop Fernando Tatis and 20-year-old second baseman Luis Urias could merit their making the major league roster out of camp. Kevin Acee,, "Fernando Tatis, Luis Urias pushing Padres," 4 Mar. 2018 Tactics include infiltrating social media, spreading propaganda and using other forms of subversion and espionage — all without rising to the level of an armed attack that would merit a military response. Washington Post, "H.R. McMaster delivers a parting shot to Russia as he prepares to bow out as national security adviser," 5 Apr. 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

25 Jun 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).


having a desire to acquire more things

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