verb (used with object), a·merced, a·merc·ing.
  1. to punish by imposing a fine not fixed by statute.
  2. to punish by inflicting any discretionary or arbitrary penalty.

Origin of amerce

1250–1300; Middle English amercy < Anglo-French amerci(er) to fine, representing (estre) a merci (to be) at (someone's) mercy. See a-5, mercy
Related formsa·merce·a·ble, adjectivea·merce·ment, nouna·merc·er, nounun·a·merce·a·ble, adjectiveun·a·merced, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for amerced

punish, fine

Examples from the Web for amerced

Historical Examples of amerced

British Dictionary definitions for amerced


verb (tr) obsolete
  1. law to punish by a fine
  2. to punish with any arbitrary penalty
Derived Formsamerceable, adjectiveamercement, nounamercer, noun

Word Origin for amerce

C14: from Anglo-French amercier, from Old French à merci at the mercy (because the fine was arbitrarily fixed); see mercy
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

Word Origin and History for amerced



1215, earlier amercy, Anglo-French amercier "to fine," from merci "mercy, grace" (see mercy). The legal phrase estre a merci "to be at the mercy of" (a tribunal, etc.) was corrupted to estre amercié in an example of how a legalese adverbial phrase can become a verb (cf. abandon). The sense often was "to fine arbitrarily."

Frans hom ne seit amerciez pour petit forfet. [Magna Charta]

Related: Amercement; amerciable.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper