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[dih-mer-it] /dɪˈmɛr ɪt/
a mark against a person for misconduct or deficiency:
If you receive four demerits during a term, you will be expelled from school.
the quality of being censurable or punishable; fault; culpability.
Obsolete. merit or desert.
Origin of demerit
1350-1400; Middle English (< Old French desmerite) < Medieval Latin dēmeritum fault, noun use of neuter past participle of Latin dēmerēre to earn, win the favor of (dē- taken in ML as privative, hence pejorative). See de-, merit
Related forms
[dih-mer-i-tawr-ee-uh s, -tohr-] /dɪˌmɛr ɪˈtɔr i əs, -ˈtoʊr-/ (Show IPA),
demeritoriously, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for demerit
  • The whole demerit system, and use of detention is odd too.
  • Chen, who was a senior at the time, was given a demerit but not expelled.
  • Inside, the sole demerit is an awkward navigation and audio screen.
  • Indeed, if there was a demerit to the collection, it was that she did not offer a similar looseness in her evening looks.
  • The idea of moral merit and demerit is almost wholly absent from all these compositions.
  • The points will appear as the difference between the plus points and any existing demerit points.
  • With a probationary license, demerit points double for moving traffic convictions after your first conviction.
British Dictionary definitions for demerit


/diːˈmɛrɪt; ˈdiːˌmɛrɪt/
something, esp conduct, that deserves censure
(US & Canadian) a mark given against a person for failure or misconduct, esp in schools or the armed forces
a fault or disadvantage
Derived Forms
demeritorious, adjective
demeritoriously, adverb
Word Origin
C14 (originally: worth, later specialized to mean: something worthy of blame): from Latin dēmerērī to deserve
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
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Word Origin and History for demerit

late 14c., from Old French desmerite "blame, demerit" (Modern French démérite), from des- "not, opposite" (see dis-) + merite "merit" (see merit (n.)). Latin demereri meant "to merit, deserve," from de- in its completive sense. But Medieval Latin demeritum meant "fault." Both senses existed in the Middle French form of the word. Meaning "penalty point in school" is attested from 1862.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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