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mer·cy  audio  (mûrs) KEY 

pl. mer·cies
  1. Compassionate treatment, especially of those under one's power; clemency.
  2. A disposition to be kind and forgiving: a heart full of mercy.
  3. Something for which to be thankful; a blessing: It was a mercy that no one was hurt.
  4. Alleviation of distress; relief: Taking in the refugees was an act of mercy.

at the mercy of
Without any protection against; helpless before: drifting in an open boat, at the mercy of the elements.

Middle English, from Old French merci, from Medieval Latin mercs, from Latin, reward

mercy, leniency, lenity, clemency, charity

These nouns mean humane and kind, sympathetic, or forgiving treatment of or disposition toward others. Mercy is compassionate forbearance: "We hand folks over to God's mercy, and show none ourselves" (George Eliot). Leniency and lenity imply mildness, gentleness, and often a tendency to reduce punishment: "When you have gone too far to recede, do not sue [appeal] to me for leniency" (Charles Dickens). "His Majesty gave many marks of his great lenity, often . . . endeavoring to extenuate your crimes" (Jonathan Swift). Clemency is mercy shown by someone with judicial authority: The judge believed in clemency for youthful offenders. Charity is goodwill and benevolence in judging others: "But how shall we expect charity towards others, when we are uncharitable to ourselves?" (Thomas Browne).

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