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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun According to local historians, the Graves House had important historic merit because of its age and Folk Victorian architectural style, which is more commonly seen in San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 May 2022 At the time, legal experts predicted that the suit would have little success in court, telling The Washington Post then that the cases relied on arguments that had scant legal merit. Washington Post, 6 May 2022 All seven members of BTS qualified after being awarded the country’s Hwagwan orders of cultural merit from the government in 2018 during the Korean Popular Culture & Arts Awards. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, 5 May 2022 The entrepreneurial structure, which accords primary importance to hard work and initiative while paying no heed to gender, ensures that realtors are judged by merit alone. Leslie Rouda Smith, Fortune, 4 May 2022 In a letter from the NFL released Thursday, the league asked a Manhattan federal judge to dismiss the coaches’ claims or force them into arbitration, saying the claims lack legal merit. Editors, USA TODAY, 2 May 2022 Perhaps, but the exam and the cutoff score inject an element of merit and transparency into a byzantine hiring process that involves more-subjective elements, including an oral assessment and personal essays. Dave Seminara, WSJ, 2 May 2022 Toward the end of the debate, Feuer said the city was on the verge of having its mayoral race outcome decided by money, rather than merit or values. Los Angeles Times, 1 May 2022 The Fever aren’t putting any pressure on Hull to prove her merit as the No. 6 pick. Matthew Vantryon, The Indianapolis Star, 25 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The 100 tongue-in-cheek trophies, which were priced at $1,000 apiece, have since been snapped up by collectors—who did very little to merit them. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 9 May 2022 These allegations merit further investigation by the Commission. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, 10 Mar. 2022 According to the National Weather Service, winter weather advisories are issued when snow, blowing snow, ice, sleet or a combination of wintry elements is expected but conditions should not be hazardous enough to merit a warning. Scott D. Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Mar. 2022 Alaska did not have a large enough population to merit a county government like those in the Lower 48, which have significant tax bases and budgets, Haycox said over email. Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News, 1 Mar. 2022 The first is about thresholds—determining what viral conditions merit what protective responses, and when those measures get rolled out or pulled back. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 17 Feb. 2022 Erceg made it to Class AAA San Antonio in 2019, one rung on the ladder away from the Brewers, but hit .219 with 15 home runs and 52 runs batted in over 116 games – numbers that simply weren’t good enough to merit a callup. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2 Apr. 2022 Suddenly, at least, the New York Times wants to grow up, as if the events of the past three weeks merit a rediscovery of seriousness of purpose. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, 22 Mar. 2022 Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates may merit some presidential attention, too. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, 8 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Merit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 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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