Try Our Apps


Petrichor: The smell after rainfall


[meer] /mɪər/
adjective, superlative merest.
being nothing more nor better than:
a mere pittance; He is still a mere child.
  1. pure and unmixed, as wine, a people, or a language.
  2. fully as much as what is specified; completely fulfilled or developed; absolute.
Origin of mere1
1250-1300; Middle English < Latin merus pure, unmixed, mere
Can be confused
mere, mère, mirror.
1. Mere, bare imply a scant sufficiency. They are often interchangeable, but mere frequently means no more than (enough). Bare suggests scarcely as much as (enough). Thus a mere livelihood means enough to live on but no more; a bare livelihood means scarcely enough to live on. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for merest
Historical Examples
  • She found it horrible that in this supreme matter everything must be left to Fate, to Chance, to the merest Toss-up.

  • It was only by the merest chance that they had such a man as Captain Fuller to oppose them.

    Stories Of Georgia Joel Chandler Harris
  • It just turned on the merest hairsbreadth of a pressure on the trigger.

    Aletta Bertram Mitford
  • It mattered not whether it were jewels, or silver, or the merest trifle.

  • Our marriage was the merest form, and I came back from the church wishing that my last hour had come.

    Witness to the Deed George Manville Fenn
  • All this is only the merest suggestion of what is done for the main part of the vessel's hull.

    All Afloat William Wood
  • Absurd as it was, the phrase crinkled Stanton's heart just the merest trifle.

    Molly Make-Believe Eleanor Hallowell Abbott
  • At any moment, by the merest accident, I may become one of the impossibles.

    The Art of Disappearing John Talbot Smith
  • He could not be more unsettled and useless if he were the merest dunce in the three kingdoms.

    My Novel, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • It never belonged to anybody else for the merest fraction of a second, and never can.

British Dictionary definitions for merest


adjective (superlative) merest
being nothing more than something specified: she is a mere child
Word Origin
C15: from Latin merus pure, unmixed


(archaic or dialect) a lake or marsh
(obsolete) the sea or an inlet of it
Word Origin
Old English mere sea, lake; related to Old Saxon meri sea, Old Norse marr, Old High German mari; compare Latin mare


(archaic) a boundary or boundary marker
Word Origin
Old English gemǣre


(NZ) a short flat striking weapon
Word Origin
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for merest



c.1400, "unmixed, pure," from Old French mier "pure" (of gold), "entire, total, complete," and directly from Latin merus "unmixed" (of wine), "pure; bare, naked;" figuratively "true, real, genuine," probably originally "clear, bright," from PIE *mer- "to gleam, glimmer, sparkle" (cf. Old English amerian "to purify," Old Irish emer "not clear," Sanskrit maricih "ray, beam," Greek marmarein "to gleam, glimmer"). Original sense of "nothing less than, absolute" (mid-15c., now only in vestiges such as mere folly) existed for centuries alongside opposite sense of "nothing more than" (1580s, e.g. a mere dream).


Old English mere "sea, ocean; lake, pool, pond, cistern," from Proto-Germanic *mari (cf. Old Norse marr, Old Saxon meri "sea," Middle Dutch maer, Dutch meer "lake, sea, pool," Old High German mari, German Meer "sea," Gothic marei "sea," mari-saiws "lake"), from PIE *mori- "sea" (cf. Latin mare, Old Church Slavonic morje, Russian more, Lithuanian mares, Old Irish muir, Welsh mor "sea," Gaulish Are-morici "people living near the sea").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for mere

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for merest

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for merest