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mere1

[meer] /mɪər/
adjective, superlative merest.
1.
being nothing more nor better than:
a mere pittance; He is still a mere child.
2.
Obsolete.
  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
1250-1300; Middle English < Latin merus pure, unmixed, mere
Can be confused
mere, mère, mirror.
Synonyms
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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for merest
Historical Examples
  • She found it horrible that in this supreme matter everything must be left to Fate, to Chance, to the merest Toss-up.

  • On another, it might have appeared perhaps the merest trifle garish.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • It just turned on the merest hairsbreadth of a pressure on the trigger.

    Aletta Bertram Mitford
  • It seemed that he saw the merest ghost of a flicker in Murray's left eye.

    The Martian Cabal Roman Frederick Starzl
  • Our marriage was the merest form, and I came back from the church wishing that my last hour had come.

    Witness to the Deed George Manville Fenn
  • That, however, is merest surmise, an' in a manner onimportant.

    Faro Nell and Her Friends Alfred Henry Lewis
  • Absurd as it was, the phrase crinkled Stanton's heart just the merest trifle.

    Molly Make-Believe Eleanor Hallowell Abbott
  • He tapped lightly on a door and it was opened the merest crack.

  • He could not be more unsettled and useless if he were the merest dunce in the three kingdoms.

    My Novel, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • It was the merest accident that he did not miss us and lose his passage.

    Sir Brook Fossbrooke, Volume I. Charles James Lever
British Dictionary definitions for merest

mere1

/mɪə/
adjective (superlative) merest
1.
being nothing more than something specified: she is a mere child
Word Origin
C15: from Latin merus pure, unmixed

mere2

/mɪə/
noun
1.
(archaic or dialect) a lake or marsh
2.
(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

mere3

/mɪə/
noun
1.
(archaic) a boundary or boundary marker
Word Origin
Old English gemǣre

mere4

/ˈmɛrɪ/
noun
1.
(NZ) a short flat striking weapon
Word Origin
Māori
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

mere

adj.

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).

n.

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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