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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.
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 demerits
  • If you wish to discuss the demerits of copper sulfate, do so.
  • Each treatment option did have its merits and demerits, however.
  • The booking merits and demerits of various car-service apps tell only part of the story.
  • But this piece is not really about my views, or about the overall merits or demerits of hedge funds.
  • It also offers a healthy balance to the usual debates about the merits and demerits of capitalism.
  • It gets bonus points for having a shopping-list applet as part of the package, demerits for too aggressive advertising.
British Dictionary definitions for demerits


/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 demerits



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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