Word Origin & History
late 12c., "God's forgiveness of his creatures' offenses," from O.Fr. mercit, merci "reward, gift, kindness," from L. mercedem (nom. merces) "reward, wages, hire" (in V.L. "favor, pity"), from merx (gen. mercis) "wares, merchandise." In Church L. (6c.) applied to the heavenly reward of those who show
kindness to the helpless. Meaning "disposition to forgive or show compassion" is attested from early 13c. As an interjection, attested from mid-13c. In French largely superseded by miséricorde except as a word of thanks. Seat of mercy "golden covering of the Ark of the Covenant" (1530) is Tyndale's loan-translation of Luther's gnadenstuhl, an inexact rendering of Heb. kapporeth, lit. "propitiatory."