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[mur-si-fuh l] /ˈmɜr sɪ fəl/
full of mercy; characterized by, expressing, or showing mercy; compassionate:
a merciful God.
Origin of merciful
Middle English word dating back to 1250-1300; See origin at mercy, -ful
Related forms
mercifully, adverb
mercifulness, noun
overmerciful, adjective
overmercifully, adverb
overmercifulness, noun
kind, clement, lenient, forgiving, benignant, tender, sympathetic.
cruel, relentless. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for merciful
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He was merciful only when you paid for His mercy in advance.

  • God will bless them, not because they have earned a reward, but because He is merciful and gracious.

  • She had re-appeared; it was she herself who now sobbed and besought him to be tender and merciful.

    The Dream Emile Zola
  • Whatever this dreadful secret is, be merciful, and God will bless you!'

  • She will put her hands together and pray you to be merciful.

    A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens
  • But, after all, fortune was merciful, and I was gone; the Major had summoned me--his brother had come.

    The Cavalier George Washington Cable
  • If there be Gods, they are merciful; but thou art a savage and unrelenting monster.

    Imogen William Godwin
British Dictionary definitions for merciful


showing or giving mercy; compassionate
Derived Forms
mercifulness, noun
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 merciful

mid-14c.; see mercy + -ful. Related: Mercifully.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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