- claim to respect and praise; excellence; worth.
- something that deserves or justifies a reward or commendation; a commendable quality, act, etc.: The book’s only merit is its sincerity.
- merits, the inherent rights and wrongs of a matter, as a lawsuit, unobscured by procedural details, technicalities, personal feelings, etc.: The case will be decided on its merits alone.
- Often merits. the state or fact of deserving; desert: to treat people according to their merits.
- Roman Catholic Church. worthiness of spiritual reward, acquired by righteous acts made under the influence of grace.
- Obsolete. something that is deserved, whether good or bad.
verb (used with object)
- to be worthy of; deserve.
verb (used without object)
- Chiefly Theology. to acquire merit.
- based on merit: a merit raise of $25 a week.
- the actual and intrinsic rights and wrongs of an issue, esp in a law case, as distinct from extraneous matters and technicalities
- on its merits on the intrinsic qualities or virtues
- worth or superior quality; excellencework of great merit
- (often plural) a deserving or commendable quality or actjudge him on his merits
- Christianity spiritual credit granted or received for good works
- the fact or state of deserving; desert
- an obsolete word for reward
verb -its, -iting or -ited
- (tr) to be worthy of; deservehe merits promotion
n.c.1200, “spiritual credit” (for good works, etc.); c.1300, “spiritual reward,” from Old French merite “wages, pay, reward; thanks; merit, moral worth, that which assures divine pity,” and directly from Latin meritum “a merit, service, kindness, benefit, favor; worth, value, importance,” neuter of meritus, past participle of merere, meriri “to earn, deserve, acquire, gain,” from PIE root *(s)mer- “to allot, assign” (cf. Greek meros “part, lot,” moira “share, fate,” moros “fate, destiny, doom,” Hittite mark “to divide” a sacrifice). Sense of “worthiness, excellence” is from early 14c.; from late 14c. as “condition or conduct that deserves either reward or punishment;” also “a reward, benefit.” Related: Merits. Merit system attested from 1880. Merit-monger was in common use 16c.-17c. in a sense roughly of “do-gooder.” v.late 15c., “to be entitled to,” from Middle French meriter (Modern French mériter), from merite (n.), or directly from Latin meritare “to earn, yield,” frequentative of mereri “to earn (money);” also “to serve as a soldier” (see merit (n.)). Related: Merited; meriting. see on its merits.