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[mur-si-lis] /ˈmɜr sɪ lɪs/
without mercy; having or showing no mercy; pitiless; cruel:
a merciless critic.
Origin of merciless
1300-50; Middle English mercyles. See mercy, -less
Related forms
mercilessly, adverb
mercilessness, noun
hard, relentless, unrelenting, fell, unsympathetic, inexorable.
compassionate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for merciless
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was the deadliest of all attacks when that merciless tribunal of death stood waiting for the first fall of the vanquished.

    Kazan James Oliver Curwood
  • They hang their heads in shame under the merciless but just accusation.

  • The merciless methods of communal hunting either exterminate or frighten away most of the larger animals.

    The Delight Makers Adolf Bandelier
  • It still regarded them with the merciless wistfulness of hunger.

    White Fang Jack London
  • The merciless finger of Time has been more fatal to it than shot and shell.

    Due West Maturin Murray Ballou
British Dictionary definitions for merciless


without mercy; pitiless, cruel, or heartless
Derived Forms
mercilessly, adverb
mercilessness, noun
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 merciless

late 14c., see mercy + -less. Related: Mercilessly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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