Definition of mercy in English:



  • 1Compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm.

    ‘the boy was screaming and begging for mercy’
    [count noun] ‘the mercies of God’
    • ‘The person with the lower voice is in the authority position, in that she is the one causing harm and from whom mercy is begged.’
    • ‘He must be henceforth treated like a moral leper to satisfy our conviction that endless ongoing punishment without mercy is ours to mete out to him forever.’
    • ‘He could hear them beg for mercy within their minds however; he would not extend any, at least not yet.’
    • ‘There are instances in which Mohammed behaved harshly and unjustly in his dealings with people and without mercy towards his enemies.’
    • ‘‘We will wage a war without mercy against the terrorists’ he warned.’
    • ‘He metes out justice without mercy, with no compassion for any man, an insult to your grandfather's legacy, and your father's.’
    • ‘Anyone who revolted against his or her superior could be punished without mercy.’
    • ‘The only moral action is kill the terrorist without mercy or regret, and thus protect innocent lives against future acts of terrorism.’
    • ‘The man in the white coat holding the dart gun looked up as Aidan came down him without mercy and blinded by fury and wrath.’
    • ‘We must find him for ourselves a God of grace, mercy, love and power, for that is what he really is.’
    • ‘In fact, the Prime Minister's compassion and mercy have absolutely nothing to do with his charitable feelings towards her.’
    • ‘Such an image of God may also be of our own making, but it at least provides us with a vision of hope and faith in a God of grace, mercy, and compassion.’
    • ‘She had killed without mercy and used her power and beauty to manipulate people into doing whatever she wanted.’
    • ‘When I am put into a position of control by a social phenomenon like the Sims, where I get insane pleasure from killing without mercy, well, I begin to wonder.’
    • ‘They intended to exploit his fame; they treated him without mercy in hope that he would break and make propaganda broadcasts.’
    • ‘They will kill you and those you love without mercy.’
    • ‘Could Hashem not find it within His infinite mercy to forgive Moshe's one sin?’
    • ‘All of us afflicted by landlords merely vow to hate them without mercy for the entire day.’
    • ‘According to her some of the most important aspects that an individual needs to possess in life are love, passion, affection, mercy and compassion for the poor.’
    • ‘A swarm of dark elves jumped down from the trees and fell upon the humans, slaying them without mercy for harming one of their companions.’
    leniency, lenience, clemency, compassion, grace, pity, charity, forgiveness, forbearance, quarter, humanity, humaneness, humanitarianism
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1An event to be grateful for, especially because its occurrence prevents something unpleasant or provides relief from suffering.
      ‘his death was in a way a mercy’
      • ‘Finally, the Queen showed a little mercy, allowing the couple to meet once every year on the Silver River.’
      • ‘It didn't occur to us to wonder what they thought of us, which might have been a mercy.’
      • ‘I guess it's a mercy that I'll be in an eagerly awaited training from 10-noon.’
      • ‘It was, he says, a mercy that it happened so swiftly.’
      • ‘They are not killed, as are Easy Rider's dynamic duo, but death would seem a mercy in the face of the fate society seems to have in store for them.’
      • ‘Consistency has never been his forte, so perhaps we should be grateful for the mercies this album provides.’
      • ‘We are thankful and grateful to God for His undeserved mercies.’
      • ‘It would be a mercy to end its existence, but he left it there, just tethering at the edge of death, wishing for it but not enough to fall over.’
      • ‘The Blues, experiencing troubled times, are grateful for any mercies these days and they gratefully accepted the four points for a victory that nudges them ahead of Glasgow in the Celtic League.’
      • ‘By experience we discover the Lord's mercies to be new every morning, and his faithfulness to be sure and dependable even when ours is weak.’
      • ‘All occasions invite God's mercies, and all times are God's seasons.’
      • ‘Many an immigrants wrote back to their families in the villages applauding the mercies of Lord Ram in providing Shiv Sena, thanks to whose efforts we are alive today from the organized conspiracy of the Islamic Fundamentalists.’
      • ‘The Koran speaks of the advent of the Prophet as a mercy to the entire universe.’
      • ‘With a number of top-notch sides potentially lying in wait for Scotland in next month's play-offs, yesterday's success may yet prove a minuscule mercy.’
      • ‘Mind you, it wasn't a good meal, so perhaps it was a mercy.’
      • ‘I suppose we can be grateful for those (rather large) mercies.’
      • ‘American Airlines was ridiculously accommodating, and that was a mercy.’
      • ‘Accordingly, the arrangement gives extraordinary protections to investors but leaves labor, the environment, and consumers to the mercies of the deregulated markets.’
      • ‘A priceless goal midway through the second half was a mercy in this impoverished era for the national side.’
      • ‘Given the sheer volume of my singing voice, this is a mercy.’
      blessing, godsend, boon, favour, piece of luck, stroke of luck
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    2. 1.2[as modifier](especially of a journey or mission) performed out of a desire to relieve suffering; motivated by compassion.
      ‘mercy missions to refugees caught up in the fighting’
      • ‘A family holiday turned into a medical mercy mission as the family met specialists all over the United States to try and find a cure.’
      • ‘A charity worker has thanked people in Harwich for their support ahead of a mercy mission to Romania.’
      • ‘A bury optometrist has helped to safeguard the sight of many desperately poor Ugandans during a vital mercy mission with Vision Aid Overseas.’
      • ‘However, the mercy mission has proved controversial because it is being funded by taxpayers money - something some residents have complained about.’
      • ‘After doctors warned last May that the two-year-old might not live to see his 10th birthday, they quickly embarked on their own mercy mission.’
      • ‘A retired teacher is preparing to take part in a mercy mission to give poverty-stricken children in Eastern Europe a Christmas to remember.’
      • ‘The modern day Mrs. Claus is embarking on a mercy mission to Romania, to bring a little bit of Christmas spirit into the lives of orphaned children.’
      • ‘An aerial mercy mission answered the prayers of the monks of Caldey Island to watch the televised funeral of the Pope.’
      • ‘A doctor from Tameside Hospital is joining a team of physicians on a mercy mission to help earthquake victims.’
      • ‘Today very nearly featured a mercy mission to the local hospital, until the patient in question had the nerve to be discharged before Lisa and I could turn up with the grapes.’
      • ‘One of those taking part in the mercy mission is 17-year-old Sarah.’
      • ‘Listen to him long enough and it begins to sound like a crusade rather than a bid - a mercy mission for investors across the land.’
      • ‘A school headteacher is to go on a mercy mission to Westminster in a last-ditch attempt to save seven of his pupils from deportation.’
      • ‘A Shipston dad is hoping to build up support for a mercy mission to a tsunami-hit Sri Lankan village.’
      • ‘Fooled into thinking John was suffering from an incurable brain tumour, the friend, known as Mark, agreed to the killing as a mercy mission.’
      • ‘Littleborough charity worker Glenda is off an a mercy mission to help children affected by the world's worst nuclear disaster.’
      • ‘Noreen took her 10-year-old grand-daughter on the mercy mission.’
      • ‘Philomena Smyth said the walk was the first fund-raising activity for the mercy mission.’
      • ‘Simon is aware, he said, of the hardship and scenes of suffering which he is likely to encounter on his mercy mission.’
      • ‘The aid worker, who quit the army in 1992 to become a civilian engineering contractor, revealed how he turned down a well-paid job in Portugal to join the mercy mission.’


  • Used in expressions of surprise or fear.

    ‘“Mercy me!” uttered Mrs. Garfield’
    • ‘Ah mean is it too much to ask for even a ‘throw your hands in the air’ a few ‘lawd a mercy!’’
    • ‘Oh and back to the skimpy caribana costumes. lawd a mercy!’


  • at the mercy of

    • Completely in the power or under the control of.

      ‘consumers were at the mercy of every rogue in the marketplace’
      • ‘These policies have left us badly exposed and at the mercy of natural phenomena like drought.’
      • ‘They are not simply private businesses at the mercy of businessmen.’
      • ‘I think human beings in the 21st century are at the mercy of so many things.’
      • ‘You have the power to order, consume, relax, but you are also incapacitated, at the mercy of the hotel machine.’
      • ‘Even the excessive amount of time I am spending at the mercy of my employers is not enough to dampen my spirits.’
      • ‘It's a nightmare that I suppose most people have of being naked and at the mercy of some strange power.’
      • ‘She stared up into the face of a man that she had once been at the mercy of and felt her skin begin to crawl again.’
      • ‘It was also less prosperous and secure, and more at the mercy of European power politics.’
      • ‘So for at least two years an immigrant woman can be at the mercy of whatever her spouse wishes.’
      • ‘Once they descended into it they would be at the mercy of whatever hid behind its cloak.’
      • ‘They in turn are at the mercy of the power companies for electricity to transmitters and relay stations.’
      • ‘You are at the mercy of Mother Nature and toil long, hard hours in the knowledge that you could earn more working in a supermarket.’
      • ‘But all that is about to change, as Paul must lie at the mercy of a nurse.’
      • ‘Consumers were left at the mercy of the dishonest conduct in the finance sector.’
      • ‘I do not wish to sit in any accommodation at the mercy of a driver.’
      • ‘I was quite literally at the mercy of the Inquisition and was completely unable to tell a lie.’
      • ‘Ending up bobbing in the ocean at the mercy of what might be a confluence of different currents is another matter entirely.’
      • ‘This very fact places the results at the mercy of culturally insensitive marketers.’
      • ‘A factory job with all its miseries would be better than being at the mercy of this woman's power over your job and cottage.’
      • ‘Try living at the mercy of all that for a bit then see how much big cities turn you off.’
      in the power of, in the control of, under the control of, in the clutches of, in the palm of someone's hand, under the heel of, subject to
      defenceless against, unprotected against, vulnerable to, threatened by, exposed to, susceptible to, prey to, an easy target for
      View synonyms
  • be thankful (or grateful) for small mercies

    • Be relieved that an unpleasant situation is alleviated by minor advantages.

      • ‘A more fully balanced portrait of the production details would have been welcome, but we should be thankful for small mercies - Columbia provides nothing else, not even the trailer.’
      • ‘It keeps us going a bit longer, and we must be grateful for small mercies.’
      • ‘Should be grateful for small mercies, I suppose.’
      • ‘But he, and Scotland, have to be grateful for small mercies.’
      • ‘I was thankful for small mercies, though; there had been talk of me being dressed as a sumo wrestler.’
      • ‘I suppose you should be grateful for small mercies - at least it's not Randy.’
      • ‘But, I expect, we have to be grateful for small mercies, however.’
      • ‘Around it there is the lingering legacy of a relatively poor society in which it made sense to be grateful for small mercies.’
      • ‘That would not be as good as live Friday night coverage, but we might have to be thankful for small mercies.’
      • ‘That's still a long time but I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies.’
      • ‘This year it was not a matter of life and death there were no lives at stake so we must be grateful for small mercies.’
      • ‘Gratifyingly, the BBC report makes no mention whatsoever of ‘blogging’, so we can be thankful for small mercies.’
      • ‘But be grateful for small mercies: at least they come in the right year.’
      • ‘Must be grateful for small mercies, or so they say…’
      • ‘Okay, maybe all of this isn't really very much, but let's be thankful for small mercies shall we.’
      • ‘I suppose we should really be thankful for small mercies.’
      • ‘Patients should be grateful for small mercies.’
      • ‘The Minister is obviously learning from the tactics of the EU Commission and asking us to be thankful for small mercies in scaling down the level of increases to a level which is still punitive.’
      • ‘The coach is thankful for small mercies these days.’
      • ‘In any area of taxation policy, one must be grateful for small mercies as the Treasury and Inland Revenue are vigilant about protecting their fiscal base.’
  • have mercy on (or upon)

    • Show compassion or forgiveness to.

      ‘may the Lord have mercy on her soul’
      • ‘‘May the lord have mercy on your soul,’ Scott said.’
      • ‘May Allah forgive all living and all dead and have mercy upon us all.’
      • ‘Let every community set a watch in prayer and uplift each other and may God have mercy upon our souls.’
      • ‘O Allah, forgive me, have mercy on me, guide me aright and grant me sustenance.’
      • ‘If this is indeed the case, then may God have mercy on all our souls, for the problem is even deeper than I had previously feared.’
      • ‘And every mother prays for her son, May God forgive him and have mercy on him.’
      • ‘He begged his god's forgiveness and asked him to have mercy on his children.’
      • ‘If God is all forgiving then he will have mercy on us for taking some drastic measures to defend the people.’
      • ‘May the Lord have mercy on your soul,’ the judge said to a silent Cadette, who smiled as he was led out of the courtroom by police.’
      • ‘And may he have mercy on us all, especially victims and abusers.’
      pardon, forgive, grant an amnesty to, amnesty
      View synonyms
  • leave someone/something to the mercy of

    • Expose someone or something to a situation of probable danger or harm.

      ‘the forest is left to the mercy of the loggers’
      • ‘Our entire security set-up is VIP oriented and huge amount is being spent annually to provide security cover to the selected few leaving the common people to the mercy of God.’
      • ‘Nor leave the country to the mercy of rape gangs and carjackers and then take the guns away.’
      • ‘I left my customers to the mercy of an extremely stoned and paranoid Benji, plagued by imaginary ringing bells, and sneaked off to the bar next door.’
      • ‘And so the masses were left to the mercy of the soup kitchens, which were set up all over Ireland to bring relief.’
      • ‘Directly on the other side of the stream were two very rundown thatched, whitewashed cottages that also looked as if they had been left to the mercy of the elements.’
      • ‘Under this constitution, rights are left to the mercy of predators such as Howard and expedient windbags like Beazley.’
      • ‘His plea for managers to be given clear objectives and left in peace was blamed for leaving banks to the mercy of spiv traders.’
      • ‘With a sigh of defeat she left Will to the mercy of Bastian.’
      • ‘Since Robert left Jonathan to the mercy of the spiders, he has been in a deep depression.’
      • ‘‘With security non-existent, I am worried that when the matches start tomorrow we will be leaving our gear to the mercy of God, as anybody can walk in and cart our things away,’ said Leo.’
      • ‘Sleeping on the floor was out of the question and I couldn't go upstairs leaving Doug to the mercy of my parents.’
      • ‘High street traders who had to close their stores after flash floods on Tuesday say their shops have been left to the mercy of the weather after gullies and drainage were removed.’
      • ‘We have left them to the mercy of extremist groups who have preyed on them at colleges and universities.’
      • ‘Although, the Power Development Department has changed the electric poles in other parts of Srinagar city, but they have left this area to the mercy of God.’
      • ‘Then they withdrew and left us to the mercy of tens of hooligans who locked us inside.’
      • ‘Earlier, more than 2.5 million residents along the Florida coast had evacuated their homes, leaving their possessions to the mercy of the storm.’
      • ‘The chassis was bent and everything was badly corroded because it had been left to the mercy of the elements in an open barn.’
      • ‘Without even a single Muslim family in the village, the mosque has been left to the mercy of local villagers.’
      • ‘Old widows in Mathura and Vrindavan are left to the mercy of the public to eke out an existence.’
      • ‘If we had been left to the mercy of Aer Lingus and their fares we would have had to move to Brussels altogether.’
  • throw oneself on someone's mercy

    • Intentionally place oneself in a situation in which one must rely on someone else to be compassionate or lenient towards one.

      • ‘I buzzed on the salon door, was let inside, and threw myself on his mercy.’
      • ‘I confessed to knowing nothing about Italian cheese and threw myself on his mercy.’
      • ‘I prayed to Jesus to help me many times and threw myself on his mercy.’
    • see mercy
      • ‘‘I fear we're going to be throwing ourselves upon Aurora's mercy,’ he confided.’
      • ‘There is one who gave into her demands and slew the one who threw herself upon his mercy.’
      • ‘I throw myself upon his mercy and beseech him to shelter me and my man-servant from those who would seal our doom!’


Middle English: from Old French merci pity or thanks from Latin merces, merced- reward in Christian Latin pity, favor, heavenly reward.