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[mur-see] /ˈmɜr si/
noun, plural mercies for 4, 5.
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.
the disposition to be compassionate or forbearing:
an adversary wholly without mercy.
the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty.
an act of kindness, compassion, or favor:
She has performed countless small mercies for her friends and neighbors.
something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing:
It was just a mercy we had our seat belts on when it happened.
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
1. forgiveness, indulgence, clemency, leniency, lenity, tenderness, mildness.
1. cruelty. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for mercies
Historical Examples
  • I could only thank God, in my inmost heart, for all his mercies.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • She did not need to hear the minister's careful catalogue of mercies received.

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • These mercies were sent as warnings, but he says that he was too careless to profit by them.


    James Anthony Froude
  • One is grateful for mercies, but does not groan over them like rheumatism or the lumbago.'

    Lord Kilgobbin Charles Lever
  • She is a woman, and no man—Heaven be praised for all His mercies!

    Clare Avery Emily Sarah Holt
  • Can I ever express the mercies which my God has bestowed on me?

    The Autobiography of Madame Guyon Jeanne Marie Bouvier de La Motte Guyon
  • Far from me to 'sin our mercies,' or to call mere twilight dark.

    The World in Chains John Mavrogordato
  • I say this with a warm heart, as I am grateful for all my mercies.

    The Life of Mansie Wauch David Macbeth Moir
  • It wasn't callousness; it was only an appreciation of mercies.

  • Was she sleeping peacefully or was she thinking of her rescue from the mercies of the gang?

    A Son of the City

    Herman Gastrell Seely
British Dictionary definitions for mercies


noun (pl) -cies
compassionate treatment of or attitude towards an offender, adversary, etc, who is in one's power or care; clemency; pity
the power to show mercy: to throw oneself on someone's mercy
a relieving or welcome occurrence or state of affairs: his death was a mercy after weeks of pain
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
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Word Origin and History for mercies



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
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Idioms and Phrases with mercies


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