[ mur-suh-ner-ee ]
/ ˈmɜr səˌnɛr i /


working or acting merely for money or other reward; venal.
hired to serve in a foreign army, guerrilla organization, etc.

noun, plural mer·ce·nar·ies.

a professional soldier hired to serve in a foreign army.
any hireling.

Origin of mercenary

1350–1400; Middle English mercenarie < Latin mercēnnārius working for pay, hired worker, mercenary, perhaps, representing earlier *mercēd(i)nārius, equivalent to *mercēdin-, stem of *mercēdō, a by-form of mercēs, stem mercēd- payment, wage (akin to merx goods; cf. merchant) + -ārius -ary

Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mercenary

British Dictionary definitions for mercenary


/ (ˈmɜːsɪnərɪ, -sɪnrɪ) /


influenced by greed or desire for gain
of or relating to a mercenary or mercenaries

noun plural -naries

a man hired to fight for a foreign army, etc
rare any person who works solely for pay

Derived Forms

mercenarily, adverbmercenariness, noun

Word Origin for mercenary

C16: from Latin mercēnārius, from mercēs wages
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