Definition of merit in US English:



  • 1The quality of being particularly good or worthy, especially so as to deserve praise or reward.

    ‘composers of outstanding merit’
    • ‘A place where the system works in your favour and, by excluding others, creates for you a place where your work will be judged on merit alone.’
    • ‘A direct result of this tragedy was the Pendleton Act in 1883, which sought to make entry into the service dependent on merit rather than on reward.’
    • ‘Civil servants should be recruited on merit alone.’
    • ‘For me, he is a good player and deserves the European player of the year on merit.’
    • ‘Prospective trust board members will be selected on merit related to the skills they possess and the skills necessary to manage this reserve.’
    • ‘Trouble is, we couldn't think of many other people who deserved awards on merit.’
    • ‘It is hard to believe that all had shown equivalent levels of merit to deserve such elevation.’
    • ‘He knows progress in Europe will put a greater strain on his squad than ever before but he believes he has the foundations and the confidence of knowing they are there on merit.’
    • ‘I wouldn't support any system that wasn't based purely on merit.’
    • ‘I worked hard on my college resume so I could get in based on merit.’
    • ‘In its structure the ruling elite reflected a world of order and hierarchy in which promotion and status were rewarded on merit.’
    • ‘England's top sides are where they are on merit.’
    • ‘In turn she sues the government for a position she deserved on merit.’
    • ‘Some senior judges fear that an emphasis on appointing more women and ethnic minority judges would mean that appointments would no longer be based solely on merit.’
    • ‘The selectors deserve credit for picking fourteen players on merit.’
    • ‘Thus, the fight to improve lousy schools so that poor, bright children stand a better chance of getting to good universities on merit is utterly undermined.’
    • ‘All of this clearly has the appearance of rewards based on political favoritism, rather than rewards based on merit.’
    • ‘It makes no sense in a world that bases reward on merit alone, but our God operates on a different level.’
    • ‘A fair process for appointing candidates on merit must be at the heart of the new system, based on advice from the Equal Opportunities Commission.’
    • ‘Further, since he owed nothing and gave an infinite gift, he acquired merit and deserves a reward.’
    excellence, goodness, standard, quality, level, grade, high quality, calibre, worth, good, credit, eminence, worthiness, value, virtue, distinction, account, deservingness, meritoriousness
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    1. 1.1 A feature or fact that deserves praise or reward.
      ‘the relative merits of both approaches have to be considered’
      • ‘I call home from my mobile as I head for the bus, and conduct a brief conversation featuring the merits of green, as opposed to red, Thai chicken curry.’
      • ‘The film has merits and features material that is undeniably endearing.’
      • ‘In such a system it is advantageous for colleagues to argue the relative merits of various approaches (just as we are doing now in Parameters).’
      • ‘In another thread, Smoothly suggested the idea of a thread on the relative merits of various TV news and current affairs programmes.’
      • ‘It does not require a doctorate in economics to assess the relative merits of the Yes and No positions in the referendum campaign.’
      • ‘Do you think that's any sort of hint about the relative merits of the two positions?’
      • ‘In court she has to wrestle with the relative merits of justice and compassion.’
      • ‘Andy and Holly sat around the stereo, looking through cassettes and compact discs, animatedly discussing the relative merits of various forms of music.’
      • ‘What are the relative merits of each and will they eliminate scale already built up?’
      • ‘There has been much debate in the community about the relative merits of the staged and continuous approaches.’
      • ‘On the ground in Cumbria, there is still dispute about the relative merits of the disease control strategies.’
      • ‘The first chapter talks about the technologies available, the costs associated with each type and the relative merits of each approach.’
      • ‘But whatever the commercial merits of that approach might be it would be fraught with political problems.’
      • ‘Would-be researchers would do well to think through the relative merits of these contrasting approaches.’
      • ‘Whatever the year and whatever the relative merits of new films, one can always find cinematic sanctuary somewhere in Cannes.’
      • ‘Whatever the relative merits of her argument, she builds it around a stinker of a movie that is so bad nobody wanted to see it in the first place.’
      • ‘There has even been a row about the relative merits of the British and American vaccines.’
      • ‘Often with experience comes an overly philosophical detachment - an overriding sensitivity to the relative merits of varying points of view.’
      • ‘As a collection the book is most valuable in illustrating the relative merits of approaching popular culture from the perspective of textual criticism or archivally based historical enquiry.’
      • ‘My position is not a judgement on the relative merits of each article.’
      good point, strong point, advantage, benefit, value, profit, asset, plus, advisability
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    2. 1.2 A pass grade in an examination denoting above-average performance.
      ‘if you expect to pass, why not go for a merit or a distinction?’
      Compare with distinction
      • ‘Technical merit scores dipped as low as 5.2 to reflect the lack of jump content.’
      • ‘The standard was extremely high with many students achieving distinctions and merits and all were congratulated on the excellence of their achievements.’
      • ‘I am pretty confident that I have passed all my assignments with high enough marks to proceed to the dissertation, with a few recent assignments scoring merits or distinctions.’
      • ‘In October 2004, Dennis sat for his final examination in grade 12 and passed with a full certificate having got credits and merits in all the seven subjects.’
      • ‘University admissions requirements will vary from institution to institution, but are likely to expect either a merit or a distinction grade.’
    3. 1.3meritsLaw The intrinsic rights and wrongs of a case, outside of any other considerations.
      ‘a plaintiff who has a good arguable case on the merits’
      • ‘If evidence is presented by the defendant showing an arguable case on the merits in defence to the plaintiff's claim, this matter may be returned for reconsideration before any judge.’
      • ‘On the merits the lord justice confined his observations to the matter of bias.’
      • ‘It is impossible for me to even speculate on the merits of the claim, and the merits are a relevant consideration.’
      • ‘Strictly speaking I do not think the Court of Appeal disposed of the application for judicial review on the merits, although it seems to me pretty clear what the decision would have been had it done so.’
      • ‘During the proceedings on the merits, negotiations aimed at securing a friendly settlement may be conducted.’
      • ‘In my judgment, a court which grants provisional measures is not by virtue of that fact alone definitively seised of jurisdiction on the merits of the dispute.’
      • ‘The parties had agreed to arbitrate their disputes and after a substantial hearing the arbitrators had produced a detailed reasoned award on the merits.’
      • ‘He argued that his clients have a good defense on the merits to the plaintiffs’ claim.’
      • ‘Judgment having been signed against you, the judge considered whether you had a defence on the merits and he found that you did not.’
      • ‘That will be a matter for consideration on the merits of any particular State legislation that does so.’
      • ‘Second, the letter does not seek to make submissions on the merits of the proposed judicial review application.’
      • ‘Either it rules on the matter in an award on jurisdiction or it deals with the jurisdiction challenge in its award on the merits.’
      • ‘That is to say there was no entitlement to judicial review on the merits of the question according to Justice Gray.’
      • ‘First, he submits that in many significant respects the facts need to be resolved before anyone can make a meaningful judgment on the merits of either justification or qualified privilege.’
      • ‘Does that tell you more than that the decision on the merits is wrong?’
      • ‘Can I then come to what the defendants say on the merits.’
      • ‘The interests of justice are best served by an independent judiciary adjudicating on the merits of a given case based on application of the salient law.’
      • ‘It does seem that when it comes to the control orders, there'll now be an interim control order, and then there'll be judicial review on the merits of that control order.’
      • ‘That would have been quite inconsistent with the whole nature of a waiver as a discretion to be exercised on the merits of the individual case, and with the Waivers Policy.’
      • ‘The question is not whether on the merits I consider that it would have been appropriate to grant leave.’
    4. 1.4meritsTheology Good deeds regarded as entitling someone to a future reward from God.


[with object]
  • Deserve or be worthy of (something, especially reward, punishment, or attention)

    ‘the results have been encouraging enough to merit further investigation’
    • ‘The final aspect of the criminal law meriting consideration concerns the sharpness of the line between killing and letting die.’
    • ‘I could not detect any point meriting attention.’
    • ‘By now the trend is prominent enough to have merited a New York Times Magazine cover story.’
    • ‘Jack thought it was a turning point, but did not think the foul merited the punishment.’
    • ‘Your Honours, this is case where it is submitted the course of justice has gone awry to an extent meriting the attention of this Court.’
    • ‘The final category of claimant meriting some consideration is the rescuer.’
    • ‘Because the bill says that without a report of that panel there may be conduct meriting dismissal, the Attorney-General cannot take it further.’
    • ‘All this would have merited some serious attention from Peter.’
    • ‘He developed four categories of criminals, each meriting different forms of punishment: Extreme, impulsive, professional, and endemic.’
    • ‘That stated, it has to be reported that it held the first night audience's attention and justly merited their cheers.’
    • ‘According to the jury, there was none meriting these awards.’
    • ‘He identified four areas of complaint that in his judgment merited consideration by the full court and granted leave.’
    • ‘It may be that on that basis (though it is doubtful) the original award was merited.’
    • ‘It merits our attention and deserves our recognition for work very well done.’
    • ‘Whereas virtually every player deserved the award at Reading on Tuesday, nobody merited the accolade last night.’
    • ‘Whether it's a serious enough offense to merit professional sanctions I'll leave to others to decide.’
    • ‘However, the shortage and hence high price of particular skills can often be significant enough to merit the attention of a strategic assessment.’
    • ‘While meriting attention by astronomers, there is no cause for public attention or public concern as an actual collision is very unlikely.’
    • ‘Baptism was forced upon all Saxons; any public pagan practice merited a death penalty.’
    • ‘It was a case on its own, meriting a careful consideration of what led to the sentencing and how it came about.’
    deserve, earn, be deserving of, warrant, rate, justify, be worthy of, be worth, be entitled to, have a right to, have a claim on, have a claim to, be qualified for
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  • judge (or consider) something on its merits

    • Assess something solely with regard to its intrinsic quality rather than other external factors.

      • ‘As with all applications to the Community Fund each application will be considered on its merits as well as in relation to its relevance to Community Fund priorities.’
      • ‘Every claim will be considered on its merits so in genuine cases people have no need to worry.’
      • ‘Yesterday a spokesman for the RAF said: ‘We have not got a blanket ban on wind turbines as such and judge each case on its merits.’’
      • ‘It says each application will be considered on its merits, taking into account issues such as littering, fouling, noise and street crime.’
      • ‘We judge each situation on its merits and work towards resolving the problem.’
      • ‘Now, that's a pretty bold claim to make but none the less I decided to let it pass and judge the piece on its merits rather than immediately begin to make a list of other possible contenders for the title.’
      • ‘Mr Bailey said any application would be considered on its merits and would have to fit in with other buildings.’
      • ‘When undertaking a review, a chief constable is required to judge each case on its merits and to take any extra information not originally available into account.’
      • ‘And that's to revert to judging every case on its merits.’
      • ‘City of York Council has said the application would be judged on its merits.’
      • ‘But I think we've got decent referees in the Premiership and you'd like to think they won't be swayed by anything they've seen or heard and they just judge every game on its merits.’
      • ‘These three, plus a Cartwright official, judged each painting on its merits.’
      • ‘He's entitled to serve his term and to fulfill his responsibilities, and I'd be judging his performance on its merits and making my decisions about reappointment on that basis.’
      • ‘I think I refer to, in my submission, a triage approach where each individual case is judged on its merits.’
      • ‘‘Each case will be considered on its merits in light of legal advice,’ he said.’
      • ‘He spends most of his article indulging in irrelevance and generally missing the point entirely - which is to judge the book on its merits.’
      • ‘All arrears will have to paid in full but customs officials will be prepared to discuss settlement over a period of time and judge each case on its merits rather than hitting firms with a huge bill.’
      • ‘I think if we are going to look again at these three libraries, we should certainly look at all libraries in the borough and judge each case on its merits.’
      • ‘On the question of the timing of accession, he said that each country would be judged on its merits, but in principle it would be better were Bulgaria and Romania to join the union simultaneously.’
      • ‘But the director of Government affairs for Central Railway said: ‘If the case is judged on its merits, then we can be confident of a positive outcome.’’


Middle English (originally in the sense ‘deserved reward or punishment’): via Old French from Latin meritum ‘due reward’, from mereri ‘earn, deserve’.