mer·​it | \ ˈmer-ət How to pronounce merit (audio) , ˈme-rət \

Essential Meaning of merit

1 : a good quality or feature that deserves to be praised The great merit [=advantage, strength] of this plan is its simplicity.
2 formal : the quality of being good, important, or useful : value or worth His ideas have (some) merit. She saw merit in both of the arguments. See More ExamplesTheir idea is without merit. = Their idea has no merit. The study has no scientific merit. Hiring decisions are based entirely on merit. [=people are hired because they have the skills to do the job well]Hide

Full 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

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 The intent was to rebrand Miss America for a new generation and signal an open-door welcome to all young women of merit, exclusive of their looks. Amy Argetsinger, Smithsonian Magazine, 13 Dec. 2021 But some people in crypto do not see Agrawal’s involvement in bluesky as a badge of merit. Gian M. Volpicelli, Wired, 3 Dec. 2021 Grace is the love of God bestowed on humankind regardless of merit. San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Nov. 2021 Artist and author Glen Vilppu will receive a special achievement award for his work teaching a generation of animation professionals, and a certificate of merit for service to the art and industry of animation will go to Evan Vernon. Terry Flores, Variety, 21 Dec. 2021 The tyranny of merit, Sandel argues in his book, operates in two directions at once. Benjamin Wallace-wells, The New Yorker, 17 Dec. 2021 Fortunately, the scouts had earned their swimming and lifesaving merit badges and were even taught what maneuvers to use when rescuing someone from the water. Alaa Elassar, CNN, 3 July 2021 The process of becoming an Eagle Scout is rigorous, as candidates must earn 21 merit badges varying in subject from first-aid to business, assume leadership roles and execute a large community service project, all before turning 18. Madison Bateman,, 7 June 2021 Many public-health experts in Singapore and abroad say the government’s decision has merit. Jon Emont, WSJ, 8 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb However, Landale fared well enough to merit more minutes in the Spurs’ next two games against Sacramento and the L.A. Clippers, combining to score 15 points in them. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, 23 Dec. 2021 Over two acts and more than 2½ hours — a luxurious length that might merit a judicious trimming — the actresses take us on a merry jaunt through the novel, with a few pop tunes thrown in. Washington Post, 11 Nov. 2021 But the plusses are not enough to merit the support of Dennis McFadden, a Los Angeles architect and a member of UC Santa Barbara’s design review committee for more than a decade. Christian Martinez, Los Angeles Times, 1 Nov. 2021 Rainey argued that the unique and ongoing challenges facing Black residents merit a department's focus. Alison Dirr, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 27 Oct. 2021 Robinson’s process proved enough to merit five-year, $90 million contract in the offseason. Ira Winderman,, 30 Sep. 2021 But did the rookie do enough to merit the first-team snaps on Sept. 12, when the Patriots kick off their season against the Miami Dolphins? Mark Inabinett |, al, 27 Aug. 2021 By the time the opportunity with Blackground came along, the company had grown enough to merit a seat at the table in negotiations. Dan Rys, Billboard, 5 Aug. 2021 The resulting outcry was enough to merit a response from Airbnb, which offered a defense of its pricing transparency, an explanation about how fees are set and a promise to review the issue. Star Tribune, 28 May 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


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

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The first known use of merit was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

12 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Merit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for merit


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

More from Merriam-Webster on merit

Nglish: Translation of merit for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of merit for Arabic Speakers


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