Try Our Apps


Gobble up these 8 terms for eating


[uh-murs] /əˈmɜrs/
verb (used with object), amerced, amercing.
to punish by imposing a fine not fixed by statute.
to punish by inflicting any discretionary or arbitrary penalty.
Origin of amerce
1250-1300; Middle English amercy < Anglo-French amerci(er) to fine, representing (estre) a merci (to be) at (someone's) mercy. See a-5, mercy
Related forms
amerceable, adjective
amercement, noun
amercer, noun
unamerceable, adjective
unamerced, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for amercement
Historical Examples
  • Sullivan says that both plaintiffs and defendants were liable to amercement.

  • If any one happen to fall into my amercement he may be reasonably fined by my bailiff and the faithful burgesses of the court.

British Dictionary definitions for amercement


verb (transitive) (obsolete)
(law) to punish by a fine
to punish with any arbitrary penalty
Derived Forms
amerceable, adjective
amercement, noun
amercer, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Anglo-French amercier, from Old French à merci at the mercy (because the fine was arbitrarily fixed); see mercy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for amercement



1215, earlier amercy, Anglo-French amercier "to fine," from merci "mercy, grace" (see mercy). The legal phrase estre a merci "to be at the mercy of" (a tribunal, etc.) was corrupted to estre amercié in an example of how a legalese adverbial phrase can become a verb (cf. abandon). The sense often was "to fine arbitrarily."

Frans hom ne seit amerciez pour petit forfet. [Magna Charta]
Related: Amercement; amerciable.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Word Value for amercement

Scrabble Words With Friends