noun, plural mer·cies for 4, 5.
Origin of mercy
Synonyms for mercy
Antonyms for mercy
noun plural -cies
Word Origin for mercy
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 In French largely superseded by miséricorde except as a word of thanks.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."
at the mercy of
Also, at someone's mercy. Subject to the power of, helpless against, as in The captured rebels were at the mercy of the army commander. [Late 1500s]
Without any protection against, as in On top of Mount Washington we were at the mercy of the elements. [Late 1600s]
see at the mercy of.