• (RP) enPR: mĕrʹĭt, IPA: /ˈmɛɹɪt/, /ˈmɛɹət/
  • (GA) IPA: /ˈmɛɹɪt/, /ˈmɛɹət/


  1. (countable) A claim#Noun|claim to commendation or a reward#Noun|reward.
    • c. 1603–1604, William Shakespeare, The Tragœdy of Othello, the Moore of Venice. […] (First Quarto), London: Printed by N[icholas] O[kes] for Thomas Walkley, […], published 1622, OCLC 724111485 ↗, [Act III, scene iii], page 36 ↗:
      [R]eputation is an idle and moſt falſe impoſition , oft got without merit and loſt without deſeruing.
  2. (countable) A mark#Noun|mark or token of approbation or to recognize excellence.
    Antonyms: demerit
    For her good performance in the examination, her teacher gave her ten merits.
    • a. 1722, Matthew Prior, “An Ode Humbly Inscrib’d to the Queen”, in The Poetical Works of Matthew Prior: […], in Two Volumes, volume I, London: Printed for W[illiam] Strahan, […], published 1779, OCLC 491256769 ↗, stanza IX, page 275 ↗:
      Thoſe laurel groves (the merits of thy youth), / Which thou from Mahomet didſt greatly gain, / While, bold aſſertor of reſiſtleſs truth, / Thy ſword did godlike liberty maintain, / Muſt from thy brow their falling honours ſhed, / And their tranſplanted wreaths muſt deck a worthier head.
  3. (countable, uncountable) Something deserving or worthy#Adjective|worthy of positive#Adjective|positive recognition or reward.
    Synonyms: excellence, value, worth
    Antonyms: demerit
    His reward for his merit was a check for $50.
    • 1709, [Alexander Pope], An Essay on Criticism, London: Printed for W. Lewis […], published 1711, OCLC 15810849 ↗, page 42 ↗:
      Such was Roſcommon—not more learn’d than good; / With Manners gen’rous as his Noble Blood; / To him the Wit of Greece and Rome was known, / And ev’ry Author’s Merit but his own.
  4. (uncountable, Buddhism, Jainism) The sum#Noun|sum of all the good#Adjective|good deed#Noun|deeds that a person does which determines the quality of the person's next state#Noun|state of existence and contributes to the person's growth towards enlightenment.
    to acquire or make merit
  5. (uncountable, law) Usually in the plural form the merits: the substantive#Adjective|substantive rightness or wrongness of a legal argument, a lawsuit, etc., as opposed to technical matter#Noun|matters such as the admissibility of evidence#Noun|evidence or point#Noun|points of legal procedure; (by extension) the overall good#Adjective|good or bad#Adjective|bad quality, or rightness or wrongness, of some other thing.
    Even though the plaintiff was ordered by the judge to pay some costs for not having followed the correct procedure, she won the case on the merits.
  6. (countable, obsolete) The quality or state of deserving retribution, whether reward or punishment.
    • c. 1606–1607, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Anthonie and Cleopatra”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act V, scene ii], page 366 ↗, column 2:
      Be it known, that we the greateſt are mis-thoght / For things that others do : and when we fall, / We anſwer others merits, in our name / Are therefore to be pittied.
Related terms

Translations Translations Translations
  • Russian: пу́нья

merit (merits, present participle meriting; past and past participle merited)

  1. (transitive) To deserve, to earn.
    Her performance merited wild applause.
    • 1814, Dante Alighieri, “Canto V”, in H[enry] F[rancis] Cary, transl., The Vision; or, Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, of Dante Alighieri. [...] In Three Volumes, volume II (Purgatory), London: Printed for Taylor and Hessey, […], OCLC 559008226 ↗, lines 19–21, page 19 ↗:
      What other could I answer save "I come"? / I said it, somewhat with that colour ting'd / Which oftimes pardon meriteth for man.
  2. (intransitive) To be deserving#Adjective|deserving or worthy#Adjective|worthy.
    They were punished as they merited.
  3. (transitive, obsolete, rare) To reward#Verb|reward.
    • [1611?], Homer, “Book IX”, in Geo[rge] Chapman, transl., The Iliads of Homer Prince of Poets. […], London: Printed for Nathaniell Butter, OCLC 614803194 ↗; The Iliads of Homer, Prince of Poets, […] In Two Volumes, volume I, new edition, London: Charles Knight and Co., […], 1843, OCLC 987451361 ↗, page 203 ↗:
      Thus charg’d thy sire, which thou forgett’st: yet now those thoughts appease / That torture thy great spirit with wrath; which if thou wilt give surcease, / The king will merit it with gifts ; and if thou wilt give ear / I’ll tell you how much he offers thee:—yet thou sitt’st angry here.