Definition of mercy in English:

mercy

Line breaks: mercy
Pronunciation: /ˈməːsi
 
/

noun (plural mercies)

[mass noun]
1Compassion or forgiveness shown towards 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
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • There are instances in which Mohammed behaved harshly and unjustly in his dealings with people and without mercy towards his enemies.
  • He metes out justice without mercy, with no compassion for any man, an insult to your grandfather's legacy, and your father's.
Synonyms
1.1 [count noun] An event to be grateful for, because it prevents something unpleasant or provides relief from suffering: his death was in a way a mercy
More example sentences
  • Consistency has never been his forte, so perhaps we should be grateful for the mercies this album provides.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Synonyms
blessing, godsend, boon, favour, piece/stroke of luck
1.2 [as modifier] (Especially of a journey or mission) performed out of a desire to relieve suffering: mercy missions to refugees caught up in the fighting
More example sentences
  • Philomena Smyth said the walk was the first fund-raising activity for the mercy mission.
  • Noreen took her 10-year-old grand-daughter on the 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.

exclamation

archaic Back to top  
Used in expressions of surprise or fear: ‘Mercy me!’ uttered Mrs Diggory
More example sentences
  • Oh and back to the skimpy caribana costumes. lawd a mercy!
  • Ah mean is it too much to ask for even a ‘throw your hands in the air’ a few ‘lawd a mercy!’

Origin

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

Phrases

at the mercy of

Completely in the power of: consumers were at the mercy of every rogue in the marketplace
More example sentences
  • They in turn are at the mercy of the power companies for electricity to transmitters and relay stations.
  • It's a nightmare that I suppose most people have of being naked and at the mercy of some strange power.
  • 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.
Synonyms
in the power of, under/in the control of, in the clutches of, in the palm of someone's hand, under the heel of, subject todefenceless against, unprotected against, vulnerable to, threatened by, exposed to, susceptible to, prey to, (wide) open to, an easy target for

be thankful (or grateful) for small mercies

Be relieved that an unpleasant situation is alleviated by minor advantages: none of the men gave her a second glance, and she wondered wryly whether to be thankful for small mercies
More example sentences
  • That would not be as good as live Friday night coverage, but we might have to be thankful for small mercies.
  • Must be grateful for small mercies, or so they say…
  • Should be grateful for small mercies, I suppose.

have mercy on (or upon)

Show compassion or forgiveness to: may the Lord have mercy on her soul have mercy on the player and give him plenty of rests
More example sentences
  • And every mother prays for her son, May God forgive him and have mercy on him.
  • If God is all forgiving then he will have mercy on us for taking some drastic measures to defend the people.
  • O Allah, forgive me, have mercy on me, guide me aright and grant me sustenance.

leave someone/thing to the mercy of

Leave someone or something exposed to probable danger or harm: the forest is left to the mercy of the loggers
More example sentences
  • If we had been left to the mercy of Aer Lingus and their fares we would have had to move to Brussels altogether.
  • 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.
  • Under this constitution, rights are left to the mercy of predators such as Howard and expedient windbags like Beazley.

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: she was tempted to go back and throw herself on the mercy of the landlady on this occasion we’ll have to throw ourselves on the mercy of the court
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • I buzzed on the salon door, was let inside, and threw myself on his mercy.

Definition of mercy in:

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