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See more synonyms for demerit on Thesaurus.com
  1. a mark against a person for misconduct or deficiency: If you receive four demerits during a term, you will be expelled from school.
  2. the quality of being censurable or punishable; fault; culpability.
  3. Obsolete. merit or desert.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for demerit

Historical Examples

  • "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


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

Word Origin

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper