American English

Definition of mercy noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    (pl. mercies)
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  1. 1[uncountable] a kind or forgiving attitude toward someone that you have the power to harm or the right to punish synonym humanity to ask/beg/plead for mercy They showed no mercy to their hostages. God have mercy on us. The troops are on a mercy mission (= a journey to help people) in the war zone.
  2. 2[countable, usually singular] (informal) an event or a situation to be grateful for, usually because it stops something unpleasant It's a mercy she wasn't seriously hurt. His death was a mercy (= because he was in great pain). see also merciful, merciless
  3. Idioms
    at the mercy of somebody/something
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    not able to stop someone or something harming you because they have power or control over you I'm not going to put myself at the mercy of the bank. We were at the mercy of the weather.
    be grateful/thankful for small mercies
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    to be happy that a situation that is bad is not as bad as it could have been Well, at least you weren't hurt. I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies.
    leave somebody/something to the mercy/mercies of somebody/something
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    to leave someone or something in a situation that may cause them to suffer or to be treated badly privatized companies left to the mercy of market forces (humorous) I'll leave you to the tender mercies of these ladies!
    throw yourself on somebody's mercy (formal)
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    to put yourself in a situation where you must rely on someone to be kind to you and not harm or punish you
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: mercy

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