Definition of mercenary in English:


Line breaks: mer¦cen|ary
Pronunciation: /ˈməːsɪn(ə)ri


Primarily concerned with making money at the expense of ethics: she’s nothing but a mercenary little gold-digger
More example sentences
  • In his writing on India, Marx shows himself under no illusions concerning the brutal and mercenary nature of British rule.
  • Talk about good times for it's mercenary culture.
  • Canadians, I truly believe, are not mercenary beings.

noun (plural mercenaries)

Back to top  
1A professional soldier hired to serve in a foreign army: he had planned to seize power with the aid of a group of mercenaries
More example sentences
  • It is hard to believe that the country would hire foreign mercenaries for military and daily operations.
  • Instead, they massed a large army, hired mercenaries, and attacked both places at once.
  • Machiavelli goes on to specify that armies are basically of two types: hired mercenaries and citizen militias.
soldier of fortune, professional soldier, hired soldier, hireling;
private army
informal merc, hired gun
historical freelance, condottiere
archaic adventurer, lance-knight
1.1A person primarily motivated by personal gain: cricket’s most infamous mercenary
More example sentences
  • Richardson pits this code explicitly against Matilda's nefarious campaign to sign Gerald on as her personal mercenary.
  • NZPundit seems to think that my comments on mercenaries apply to people like this man.
  • The first, clause 7, relates to recruiting a person to be a mercenary, and I guess that is something.


late Middle English (as a noun): from Latin mercenarius 'hireling', from merces, merced- 'reward'.



More example sentences
  • But alas, the mercenariness prevalent in our game will ensure that the high turnover of personnel at the Jags will rise exponentially with the club's success.
  • Everything hinges on a young woman's disguise as a chevalier, ostensibly to witness first-hand the mercenariness of a potential husband, Lelio.
  • The lack of mercenariness was a distinctive feature of this brilliant practical surgeon.

Definition of mercenary in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day demoralize
Pronunciation: dɪˈmɒrəlʌɪz
cause (someone) to lose confidence or hope