Definition of the Order of Merit from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

 

the Order of Merit

 
BrE
 
; NAmE
 
(abbreviation OM)
 
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one of the British orders of chivalry and the name of the honour that a person receives when appointed to this Order. The Order of Merit, which is limited to 24 living British people and additional foreigners, was created in 1902 by King Edward VII for men and women who have achieved great things, especially in the arts, literature and science. Early members included Joseph Lister and Florence Nightingale. More recent members have included Margaret Thatcher, Lucian Freud and Nelson Mandela, and current members include David Hockney and Sir Tim Berners-Lee. People who are appointed to this order can place the letters OM after their name.