Definition of misericord in English:



  • 1A ledge projecting from the underside of a hinged seat in a choir stall which, when the seat is turned up, gives support to someone standing.

    • ‘The sixty-two misericords or priests' seats, carved with everything from lions to scenes of everyday life, are believed to be of 1390.’
    • ‘These appear in the stained glass windows, stone column capitals, decorated ends of pews, or even the misericords carved on the bottom of hinged church seats.’
    • ‘A misericord in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, shows four enormous hounds piling into a cauldron, indifferent to the cook just poised to hurl his ladle.’
    • ‘Naturalistic animals were carved on misericords in the early 14th century, and individualized facial features appeared on the small human heads that decorated keystones and arch mouldings.’
    • ‘Weak light filters in through stained glass and creates deep shadows among the pews and misericords.’
  • 2historical An apartment in a monastery in which some relaxations of the monastic rule were permitted.

  • 3historical A small dagger used to deliver a death stroke to a wounded enemy.


Middle English (denoting pity): from Old French misericorde, from Latin misericordia, from misericors ‘compassionate’, from the stem of misereri ‘to pity’ + cor, cord- ‘heart’.