Student Dictionary

3 entries found for mercy.
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Main Entry: mer·cy
Pronunciation: primarystressmschwar-semacron
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural mercies
Etymology: Middle English merci, mercy "mercy," from early French merci, mercit (same meaning), from Latin merces "price paid for something, wages, reward"
1 a : kind and gentle treatment of someone (as a wrongdoer or opponent) having no right to it b : a disposition to show mercy
2 a : a blessing as an act of divine love <the mercies of God> b : a fortunate happening <it's a mercy the weather cooled off>
3 : kindness shown to victims of misfortune <works of mercy among the poor>
- at the mercy of : wholly in the power of : with no way to protect oneself against <was at the mercy of the weather>
Word History To the ancient Romans, the Latin word merces meant "price paid for something, wages, reward." The early Christians of Rome used the word in a slightly different way. For them it meant the spiritual reward one receives for doing a kindness in response to an unkindness. The word came into early French as mercit or merci with much the same meaning as was later passed on to our Modern English word mercy. But while mercy in English now has the meaning "kindness or pity shown to someone," the word merci in French has lost much of that meaning and is chiefly used today to mean "thank you."
synonyms MERCY, CLEMENCY, LENIENCY mean the disposition not to be harsh in one's dealings with others. MERCY suggests feeling pity and withholding punishment even when justice demands it <pleaded guilty and asked for mercy from the court>. CLEMENCY suggests a mild or merciful disposition in the person having the power to punish <the judge refused to show clemency>. LENIENCY suggests the repeated overlooking of mistakes by one not inclined to be severe <their parents' leniency was well-known among the children>.

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