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mer·cy  audio  (mûrs) KEY 

NOUN:
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.

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

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

SYNONYMS:
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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