a. Superior quality or worth; excellence: a proposal of some merit; an ill-advised plan without merit.
b. A quality deserving praise or approval; virtue: a store having the merit of being open late.
2. Demonstrated ability or achievement: promotions based on merit alone.
3. often merits An aspect of character or behavior deserving approval or disapproval: judging people according to their merits.
4. In various religions, spiritual credit granted for good works.
a. Law The factors to be considered in making a substantive decision in a case, independent of procedural or technical aspects: a trial on the merits.
b. The factual content of a matter, apart from emotional, contextual, or formal considerations.
v. mer·it·ed, mer·it·ing, mer·its
To earn; deserve. See Synonyms at earn.
To be worthy or deserving: Pupils are rewarded or corrected, as they merit.
[Middle English, from Old French merite, reward or punishment, from Latin meritum, from neuter past participle of merēre, to deserve; see (s)mer-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.