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[mur-si-lis] /ˈmɜr sɪ lɪs/
without mercy; having or showing no mercy; pitiless; cruel:
a merciless critic.
Origin of merciless
First recorded in 1300-50, merciless is from the Middle English word mercyles. See mercy, -less
Related forms
mercilessly, adverb
mercilessness, noun
hard, relentless, unrelenting, fell, unsympathetic, inexorable.
compassionate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for mercilessness
Historical Examples
  • The girl was appalled by the mercilessness of a destiny that had so outraged right.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • The mercilessness and cruelty of the Spartans were proverbial.

  • God will rule the world by justice as long as we rule it by our mercilessness.

    Serbia in Light and Darkness Nikolaj Velimirovic
  • Taltavull shrieked for the driver to quicken, and the driver used the butt of his whip-stock with true Southern mercilessness.

    The Recipe for Diamonds Charles John Cutcliffe Wright Hyne
  • Djezzar means butcher: he had well earned this title by the mercilessness of his administration.

    The History of Napoleon Buonaparte John Gibson Lockhart
  • In the character of Peter there was a singular compound of magnanimity and of the most brutal insensibility and mercilessness.

    The Empire of Russia

    John S. C. Abbott
  • It had come with a mercilessness which those who knew him regarded as only to be expected in a man of Pap Shaunbaum's record.

    The Triumph of John Kars

    Ridgwell Cullum
  • This Weeden owned a woman called "Ceal," who was a standing proof of his mercilessness.

    My Bondage and My Freedom Frederick Douglass
  • There ran through her a fine vein of mercilessness, but it was without cruelty, it was leavened with both logic and justice.

    Parrot & Co.

    Harold MacGrath
  • Slavery has no respect for the affections, as is evinced by the mercilessness with which she sunders every family tie.

British Dictionary definitions for mercilessness


without mercy; pitiless, cruel, or heartless
Derived Forms
mercilessly, adverb
mercilessness, 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 mercilessness



late 14c., see mercy + -less. Related: Mercilessly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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