mercy Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun leniency and compassion shown toward offenders by a person or agency charged with administering justice
    mercifulness; clemency.
    • he threw himself on the mercy of the court
  2. noun a disposition to be kind and forgiving
    • in those days a wife had to depend on the mercifulness of her husband
  3. noun the feeling that motivates compassion
  4. noun something for which to be thankful
    • it was a mercy we got out alive
  5. noun alleviation of distress; showing great kindness toward the distressed
    • distributing food and clothing to the flood victims was an act of mercy


Mer"cy noun
OE. merci, F. merci, L. merces, mercedis, hire, pay, reward, LL., equiv. to misericordia pity, mercy. L. merces is prob akin to merere to deserve, acquire. See Merit, and cf. Amerce.
plural Mercies
  1. Forbearance to inflict harm under circumstances of provocation, when one has the power to inflict it; compassionate treatment of an offender or adversary; clemency.
    Examples of justice must be made for terror to some; examples of mercy for comfort to others. Bacon.
  2. Compassionate treatment of the unfortunate and helpless; sometimes, favor, beneficence. Luke x. 37.
  3. Disposition to exercise compassion or favor; pity; compassion; willingness to spare or to help.
    In whom mercy lacketh and is not founden. Sir T. Elyot.
  4. A blessing regarded as a manifestation of compassion or favor.
    The Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. 2 Cor. i. 3.
    Syn. -- See Grace.

Webster 1913