Merciful – Definition, Meaning, Synonyms & Antonym

Merciful - Definition, Meaning, Synonyms & Antonym

Merciful is an adjective describing a compassionate and forgiving nature, showing kindness and leniency toward others.

History of the Word Merciful


The word merciful can be traced back to Middle English, where it was derived from the Old French term “miséricordieux,” ultimately rooted in Latin. “Misericors” in Latin means “having pity” or “merciful,” and it consists of “miser” (wretched) and “cor” (heart).

This etymology highlights the compassionate and empathetic nature of being merciful, as it originates from the idea of having a heart full of pity or empathy for those in need.

Usage Over Time

The concept of mercy and being merciful has deep historical and religious significance. Various cultures and religions emphasize the importance of showing mercy and compassion toward others.

In Christianity, for instance, the Beatitudes in the Bible include the phrase “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7), highlighting the value of compassion.


Pronounced as: /ˈmɜːrsɪfəl/ (MUR-si-fuhl)

Derived Terms

  • Mercifully (adverb)
  • Mercifulness (noun)


  • Hindi: दयालु (Dayālu)
  • Urdu: رحمانی (Rahmani)
  • Spanish: Misericordioso/a
  • French: Miséricordieux/euse
  • German: Barmherzig
  • Russian: Милосердный (Miloserdnyy)
  • Arabic: رحيم (Raheem)
  • Chinese (Simplified): 仁慈的 (Rén cí de)
  • Japanese: 慈悲深い (Jihi bukai)
  • Portuguese: Misericordioso/a


Compassionate, forgiving, kind, lenient, tender, sympathetic, benevolent, gracious, clement, gentle.


Cruel, unforgiving, harsh, ruthless, unkind, merciless, pitiless, stern, severe, vindictive.

Examples Sentence

  • The judge’s merciful sentence took into account the defendant’s remorse.
  • In her mercy, she forgave the wrongdoer’s actions.

Use of Merciful In Different Religions


Mercy is a central attribute of God, called “Ar-Rahman” (The Most Merciful). Reflecting God’s compassion and forgiveness through acts of kindness.


Mercy is foundational, emphasized by Jesus’s teachings.


Judaism values mercy through “chesed” (loving-kindness) and “rachamim” (compassion). God’s character reflects these traits, guiding Jewish practices like charity, forgiveness, and ethical treatment of others.


Buddhism focuses on compassion (“karuna”), emphasizing the alleviation of suffering. Through “metta” (loving-kindness meditation), Buddhists practice mercy towards all beings, promoting peace and empathy.


Mercy in Hinduism is linked to “dharma” (righteous duty) and “ahimsa” (non-violence). Hindu deities embody mercy, encouraging devotees to show compassion through charitable acts and a non-violent approach to life.


What does merciful mean as an adjective?

It describes a compassionate and forgiving nature, showing kindness and leniency toward others.

 Does merciful have a comparative or superlative form?

It does not have a commonly used comparative or superlative form.

Can mercifully be used as an adverb or noun?

It is the adverb form, and mercifulness is the noun form.

When we use the word merciful?

It is typically used to describe someone or something that shows compassion, forgiveness, or leniency. Especially it is used when they have the power to be harsh or punitive.

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