a mark against a person for misconduct or deficiency: If you receive four demerits during a term, you will be expelled from school.
the quality of being censurable or punishable; fault; culpability.
Obsolete. merit or desert.


Origin of demerit

1350–1400; Middle English (< Old French desmerite) < Medieval Latin dēmeritum fault, noun use of neuter past participle of Latin dēmerēre to earn, win the favor of (dē- taken in ML as privative, hence pejorative). See de-, merit
Related formsde·mer·i·to·ri·ous [dih-mer-i-tawr-ee-uh s, -tohr-] /dɪˌmɛr ɪˈtɔr i əs, -ˈtoʊr-/, adjectivede·mer·i·to·ri·ous·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for demerit

Historical Examples of demerit

  • "Take a demerit for that, and stay after school," I told him.

    Roy Blakeley's Camp on Wheels

    Percy Keese Fitzhugh

  • Well, that report as good as finds him on demerit, doesn't it?

    Starlight Ranch

    Charles King

  • It is not a question of merit or demerit on the part of the unfortunates or their families.

    The Deaf

    Harry Best

  • A succade to follow your eggs, which you shall have if you demerit it.

    All's Well

    Emily Sarah Holt

  • The common copper and zinc cell is the next in order of demerit.

British Dictionary definitions for demerit



something, esp conduct, that deserves censure
US and Canadian a mark given against a person for failure or misconduct, esp in schools or the armed forces
a fault or disadvantage
Derived Formsdemeritorious, adjectivedemeritoriously, adverb

Word Origin for demerit

C14 (originally: worth, later specialized to mean: something worthy of blame): from Latin dēmerērī to deserve
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 demerit

late 14c., from Old French desmerite "blame, demerit" (Modern French démérite), from des- "not, opposite" (see dis-) + merite "merit" (see merit (n.)). Latin demereri meant "to merit, deserve," from de- in its completive sense. But Medieval Latin demeritum meant "fault." Both senses existed in the Middle French form of the word. Meaning "penalty point in school" is attested from 1862.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper