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amerce

[uh-murs]
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verb (used with object), a·merced, a·merc·ing.
  1. to punish by imposing a fine not fixed by statute.
  2. to punish by inflicting any discretionary or arbitrary penalty.

Origin of amerce

1250–1300; Middle English amercy < Anglo-French amerci(er) to fine, representing (estre) a merci (to be) at (someone's) mercy. See a-5, mercy
Related formsa·merce·a·ble, adjectivea·merce·ment, nouna·merc·er, nounun·a·merce·a·ble, adjectiveun·a·merced, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for amercement

Historical Examples

  • Sullivan says that both plaintiffs and defendants were liable to amercement.

    An Essay on the Trial by Jury

    Lysander Spooner

  • If any one happen to fall into my amercement he may be reasonably fined by my bailiff and the faithful burgesses of the court.


British Dictionary definitions for amercement

amerce

verb (tr) obsolete
  1. law to punish by a fine
  2. to punish with any arbitrary penalty
Derived Formsamerceable, adjectiveamercement, nounamercer, noun

Word Origin

C14: from Anglo-French amercier, from Old French à merci at the mercy (because the fine was arbitrarily fixed); see mercy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for amercement

amerce

v.

1215, earlier amercy, Anglo-French amercier "to fine," from merci "mercy, grace" (see mercy). The legal phrase estre a merci "to be at the mercy of" (a tribunal, etc.) was corrupted to estre amercié in an example of how a legalese adverbial phrase can become a verb (cf. abandon). The sense often was "to fine arbitrarily."

Frans hom ne seit amerciez pour petit forfet. [Magna Charta]

Related: Amercement; amerciable.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper