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mercenary

[mur-suh-ner-ee] /ˈmɜr səˌnɛr i/
adjective
1.
working or acting merely for money or other reward; venal.
2.
hired to serve in a foreign army, guerrilla organization, etc.
noun, plural mercenaries.
3.
a professional soldier hired to serve in a foreign army.
4.
any hireling.
Origin of mercenary
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English mercenarie < Latin mercēnnārius working for pay, hired worker, mercenary, perhaps, representing earlier *mercēd(i)nārius, equivalent to *mercēdin-, stem of *mercēdō, a by-form of mercēs, stem mercēd- payment, wage (akin to merx goods; cf. merchant) + -ārius -ary
Related forms
mercenarily
[mur-suh-nair-uh-lee, mur-suh-ner-] /ˌmɜr səˈnɛər ə li, ˈmɜr səˌnɛr-/ (Show IPA),
adverb
mercenariness, noun
nonmercenary, adjective, noun, plural nonmercenaries.
unmercenarily, adverb
unmercenariness, noun
unmercenary, adjective
Synonyms
1. grasping, acquisitive, avaricious, covetous.
Antonyms
1. altruistic, idealistic, unselfish.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for mercenary
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • By diplomatic (and mercenary) arts I gained admittance to three, one of which has walls studded with jasper and mother-of-pearl.

    Mentone, Cairo, and Corfu Constance Fenimore Woolson
  • But the most objectionable thing in the mass is its mercenary character.

  • And when the new contracts come in, the mercenary nightingales again take wing, indifferently, they care not whither.

    The Torrent Vicente Blasco Ibaez
  • They resolved to collect bodies of mercenary troops, both infantry and horse.

    Hellenica Xenophon
  • Islam had reached China in very early times, brought in by Arab traders and bands of Arab mercenary soldiers.

    The New World of Islam Lothrop Stoddard
British Dictionary definitions for mercenary

mercenary

/ˈmɜːsɪnərɪ; -sɪnrɪ/
adjective
1.
influenced by greed or desire for gain
2.
of or relating to a mercenary or mercenaries
noun (pl) -naries
3.
a man hired to fight for a foreign army, etc
4.
(rare) any person who works solely for pay
Derived Forms
mercenarily, adverb
mercenariness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin mercēnārius, from mercēs wages
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 mercenary
n.

late 14c., "one who works only for hire," from Old French mercenaire "mercenary, hireling" (13c.) and directly from Latin mercenarius "one who does anything for pay," literally "hired, paid," from merces (genitive mercedis) "pay, reward, wages," from merx (see market (n.)).

adj.

1530s, from mercenary (n.), or in part from Latin mercenarius "hired, paid, serving for pay."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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