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[dih-mer-it] /dɪˈmɛr ɪt/
a mark against a person for misconduct or deficiency:
If you receive four demerits during a term, you will be expelled from school.
the quality of being censurable or punishable; fault; culpability.
Obsolete. merit or desert.
Origin of demerit
1350-1400; Middle English (< Old French desmerite) < Medieval Latin dēmeritum fault, noun use of neuter past participle of Latin dēmerēre to earn, win the favor of (dē- taken in ML as privative, hence pejorative). See de-, merit
Related forms
[dih-mer-i-tawr-ee-uh s, -tohr-] /dɪˌmɛr ɪˈtɔr i əs, -ˈtoʊr-/ (Show IPA),
demeritoriously, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for demerit
Historical Examples
  • "Take a demerit for that, and stay after school," I told him.

    Roy Blakeley's Camp on Wheels Percy Keese Fitzhugh
  • Well, that report as good as finds him on demerit, doesn't it?

    Starlight Ranch Charles King
  • It is not a question of merit or demerit on the part of the unfortunates or their families.

    The Deaf Harry Best
  • A succade to follow your eggs, which you shall have if you demerit it.

    All's Well Emily Sarah Holt
  • The common copper and zinc cell is the next in order of demerit.

  • M. Ferri said that we must not accept the conceptions of merit and demerit.

    The Criminal Havelock Ellis
  • According to such principles, man can neither merit nor demerit.

    Good Sense Paul Henri Thiry, Baron D'Holbach
  • That belief and unbelief are involuntary and without moral merit or demerit.

  • If he answers "merit, demerit, and error," we readily grant what he says.

    The Sarva-Darsana-Samgraha Madhava Acharya
  • Such is the case when, either on merit or demerit, great patronage is bestowed.

    Nature and Art Mrs. Inchbald
British Dictionary definitions for demerit


/diːˈmɛrɪt; ˈdiːˌmɛrɪt/
something, esp conduct, that deserves censure
(US & Canadian) a mark given against a person for failure or misconduct, esp in schools or the armed forces
a fault or disadvantage
Derived Forms
demeritorious, adjective
demeritoriously, adverb
Word Origin
C14 (originally: worth, later specialized to mean: something worthy of blame): from Latin dēmerērī to deserve
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
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Word Origin and History for demerit

late 14c., from Old French desmerite "blame, demerit" (Modern French démérite), from des- "not, opposite" (see dis-) + merite "merit" (see merit (n.)). Latin demereri meant "to merit, deserve," from de- in its completive sense. But Medieval Latin demeritum meant "fault." Both senses existed in the Middle French form of the word. Meaning "penalty point in school" is attested from 1862.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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