9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[meer] /mɪər/
adjective, superlative merest.
being nothing more nor better than:
a mere pittance; He is still a mere child.
  1. pure and unmixed, as wine, a people, or a language.
  2. fully as much as what is specified; completely fulfilled or developed; absolute.
Origin of mere1
1250-1300; Middle English < Latin merus pure, unmixed, mere
Can be confused
mere, mère, mirror.
1. Mere, bare imply a scant sufficiency. They are often interchangeable, but mere frequently means no more than (enough). Bare suggests scarcely as much as (enough). Thus a mere livelihood means enough to live on but no more; a bare livelihood means scarcely enough to live on. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for merest
  • Find the merest hint of a pattern, and then exploit the daylights out of it.
  • The existence of this little group of elephants-probably no more than five today-hangs by the merest thread.
  • So are sunshine, college football, and panicky raids on grocery stores at the merest hint of snow.
  • The merest human vegetable can conceivably provide valuable data on the working of the human brain.
  • My eyes glazed over at the merest glimpse of an equation.
  • The fact that district attorneys are allowed to do so while jurors are not is the merest bureaucratic quibble.
  • Any further questioning of the status quo was the merest vanity.
  • The traders thought their captives to be less-than-human lumpen and whipped them mercilessly for the merest offense.
  • It may be the profoundest wisdom, or it may be the merest matter of moonshine.
  • Amory looked him over carefully and later he could have drawn him after a fashion, down to the merest details.
British Dictionary definitions for merest


adjective (superlative) merest
being nothing more than something specified: she is a mere child
Word Origin
C15: from Latin merus pure, unmixed


(archaic or dialect) a lake or marsh
(obsolete) the sea or an inlet of it
Word Origin
Old English mere sea, lake; related to Old Saxon meri sea, Old Norse marr, Old High German mari; compare Latin mare


(archaic) a boundary or boundary marker
Word Origin
Old English gemǣre


(NZ) a short flat striking weapon
Word Origin
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 merest



c.1400, "unmixed, pure," from Old French mier "pure" (of gold), "entire, total, complete," and directly from Latin merus "unmixed" (of wine), "pure; bare, naked;" figuratively "true, real, genuine," probably originally "clear, bright," from PIE *mer- "to gleam, glimmer, sparkle" (cf. Old English amerian "to purify," Old Irish emer "not clear," Sanskrit maricih "ray, beam," Greek marmarein "to gleam, glimmer"). Original sense of "nothing less than, absolute" (mid-15c., now only in vestiges such as mere folly) existed for centuries alongside opposite sense of "nothing more than" (1580s, e.g. a mere dream).


Old English mere "sea, ocean; lake, pool, pond, cistern," from Proto-Germanic *mari (cf. Old Norse marr, Old Saxon meri "sea," Middle Dutch maer, Dutch meer "lake, sea, pool," Old High German mari, German Meer "sea," Gothic marei "sea," mari-saiws "lake"), from PIE *mori- "sea" (cf. Latin mare, Old Church Slavonic morje, Russian more, Lithuanian mares, Old Irish muir, Welsh mor "sea," Gaulish Are-morici "people living near the sea").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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