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mercy

[mur-see]
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noun, plural mer·cies for 4, 5.
  1. compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence: Have mercy on the poor sinner.
  2. the disposition to be compassionate or forbearing: an adversary wholly without mercy.
  3. the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.
  4. an act of kindness, compassion, or favor: She has performed countless small mercies for her friends and neighbors.
  5. something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing: It was just a mercy we had our seat belts on when it happened.
Idioms
  1. at the mercy of, entirely in the power of; subject to: They were at the mercy of their captors.Also at one's mercy.

Origin of mercy

1125–75; Middle English merci < Old French, earlier mercit < Latin mercēd- (stem of mercēs) wages (Late Latin, Medieval Latin: heavenly reward), derivative of merx goods

Synonyms

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1. forgiveness, indulgence, clemency, leniency, lenity, tenderness, mildness.

Antonyms

1. cruelty.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for at the mercy of

mercy

noun plural -cies
  1. compassionate treatment of or attitude towards an offender, adversary, etc, who is in one's power or care; clemency; pity
  2. the power to show mercyto throw oneself on someone's mercy
  3. a relieving or welcome occurrence or state of affairshis death was a mercy after weeks of pain
  4. at the mercy of in the power of

Word Origin

C12: from Old French, from Latin mercēs wages, recompense, price, from merx goods
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 at the mercy of

mercy

n.

late 12c., "God's forgiveness of his creatures' offenses," from Old French mercit, merci (9c.) "reward, gift; kindness, grace, pity," from Latin mercedem (nominative merces) "reward, wages, pay hire" (in Vulgar Latin "favor, pity"), from merx (genitive mercis) "wares, merchandise" (see market (n.)). In Church Latin (6c.) applied to the heavenly reward of those who show kindness to the helpless.

Meaning "disposition to forgive or show compassion" is attested from early 13c. As an interjection, attested from mid-13c. In French largely superseded by miséricorde except as a word of thanks. Seat of mercy "golden covering of the Ark of the Covenant" (1530) is Tyndale's loan-translation of Luther's gnadenstuhl, an inexact rendering of Hebrew kapporeth, literally "propitiatory."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with at the mercy of

at the mercy of

1

Also, at someone's mercy. Subject to the power of, helpless against, as in The captured rebels were at the mercy of the army commander. [Late 1500s]

2

Without any protection against, as in On top of Mount Washington we were at the mercy of the elements. [Late 1600s]

mercy

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.