from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A quality or characteristic deserving of blame or censure; a fault.
  • n. Absence of merit.
  • n. A mark made against one's record for a fault or for misconduct.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A quality of being inadequate; a fault; a disadvantage
  • n. A mark given for bad conduct to a person attending an educational institution or serving in the army.
  • v. To deserve.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That which one merits or deserves, either of good or ill; desert.
  • n. That which deserves blame; ill desert; a fault; a vice; misconduct; -- the opposite of merit.
  • n. The state of one who deserves ill.
  • intransitive v. To deserve praise or blame.
  • transitive v. To deserve; -- said in reference to both praise and blame.
  • transitive v. To depreciate or cry down.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To deserve; merit; earn.
  • To deserve to lose from lack of merit or desert.
  • To be deserving; deserve.
  • To lower the merit of; discredit; depreciate.
  • n. That which one merits; desert.
  • n. That which merits ill; censurable conduct; wrong-doing; ill desert: opposed to merit.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the quality of being inadequate or falling short of perfection
  • n. a mark against a person for misconduct or failure; usually given in school or armed forces


Middle English demerite, offense, from Old French desmerite, from Latin dēmeritum, from neuter past participle of dēmerēre, to deserve : dē-, de- + merēre, to earn; see (s)mer-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


  • I never thought of this business of merit and demerit, which is able to change our lives in the twinkling of an eye, and which actually brought me down to a pretty low estate.

    Asian-Pacific Folktales and Legends

  • That which intimately comprises the nature of repentance is, sorrow on account of sin committed, and of its demerit, which is so much the deeper, as the acknowledgment of sin is clearer, and more copious.

    The Works of James Arminius, Vol. 2

  • But what had disturbed Jill even more than the demerit was the failure of the colleague present at her belittlement to speak a single word in her defense.

    Bladewire - Washington Blade

  • She told her managers she needed to go home because she was contagious, but Walmart informed her that she would get a "demerit" if she worked less than four hours.

    Taylor Leake: Walmart's Sick Day Policy Hurts Workers, Families, and Customers

  • LOTHIAN: Ayers doesn't think their casual connection should be a-- quote -- "demerit" on Obama's record.

    CNN Transcript Nov 14, 2008

  • "everlasting fire of hell" can only have been intended from all eternity for sin and demerit, that is, for neglect of Christian charity, in the same sense in which it is inflicted in time.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 12: Philip II-Reuss

  • She told her managers she needed to go home because she was contagious, but Walmart informed her that she would get a "demerit" if she worked less than 4 hours.

    The Full Feed from

  • Details - such as demerit points and fines - are being worked out.


  • I must be kept alive for the hanging, or else will the public be cheated, the law blackened, and a mark of demerit placed against the time-serving warden who runs this prison and one of whose duties is to see that his condemned ones are duly and properly hanged.

    Chapter 22

  • But that's the Catch 22 because if you dream, the dream images come up on the dream computer and then you, of course, are busted and it's back to work for you with a demerit.

    The Runner's Dream


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