Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



MERCHANTABLE, a. Fit for market; such as is usually sold in market or such as will bring the ordinary price; as merchantable wheat or timber.

MERCHANTLIKE, a. Like a merchant.

MERCHANTMAN, n. A ship or vessel employed in the transportation of goods, as distinguished from a ship of war.

MERCIABLE, a. Merciful. [Not in use.]

MERCIFUL, a. [from mercy.] Having or exercising mercy; compassionate; tender; disposed to pity offenders and to forgive their offenses; unwilling to punish for injuries; applied appropriately to the Supreme being.

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth. Exodus 34:6.

1. Compassionate; tender; unwilling to give pain; not cruel. A merciful man will be merciful to his beast.

MERCIFULLY, adv. With compassion or pity; tenderly; mildly.

MERCIFULNESS, n. Tenderness towards offenders; willingness to forbear punishment; readiness to forgive.

MERCIFY, v.t. To pity. [Not in use.]

MERCILESS, a. Destitute of mercy; unfeeling; pitiless; hard-hearted; cruel; as a merciless tyrant.

1. Not sparing; as the merciless waves or tempest.

MERCILESSLY, adv. In a manner void of mercy or pity; cruelly.

MERCILESSNESS, n. Want of mercy or pity.

MERCURIAL, a. [L. mercurialis.]

1. Formed under the influence of Mercury; active; sprightly; full of fire or vigor; as a mercurial youth; a mercurial nation.

2. Pertaining to quicksilver; containing quicksilver, or consisting of mercury; as mercurial preparations or medicines.

MERCURIALIST, n. One under the influence of Mercury, or one resembling Mercury in variety of character.

MERCURIATE, n. A combination of the oxyd of mercury with another substance.

Mercuric acid, a saturated combination of mercury and oxygen.

MERCURIFICATION, n. In metallurgic chimistry, the process or operation of obtaining the mercury from metallic minerals in its fluid form.

1. The act of mixing with quicksilver.

MERCURIFY, v.t. To obtain mercury from metallic minerals, which it is said may be done by a large lens, the intense heat of which expels the mercury in fumes, which are afterwards condensed.

MERCURY, n. [L. Mercurius. In mythology, Mercury is the god of eloquence and of commerce, called by the Greeks Hermes, and his name is said to be formed from merces, or mercor. But in antiquity, there were several persons or deities of this name.]

1. Quicksilver, a metal remarkable for its fusibility, which is so great that to fix or congeal it requires a degree of cold which is marked on Fahrenheit’s scale at thirty nine degrees below zero. Its specific gravity is greater than that of any other metal, except platina, gold and tungsten. Under a heat of 660 degrees, it rises in fumes and is gradually converted into a red oxyd. Mercury is used in barometers to ascertain the weight of the atmosphere, and in thermometers to determine the temperature of the air, for which purposes it is well adapted by its expansibility, and the extensive range between its freezing and boiling points. Preparations of this metal are among the most powerful poisons, and are extensively used as medicines. The preparation called calomel, is a most efficacious deobstruent.

2. Heat of constitutional temperament; spirit; sprightly qualities.

3. A genus of plants, the Mercurialis, of several species.

4. One of the planets nearest the sun. It is 3224 miles in diameter, and revolves round the sun in about 88 days. Its mean distance from the sun is thirty seven millions of miles.

5. The name of a newspaper or periodical publication, and in some places, the carrier of a newspaper or pamphlet.

MERCURY, v.t. To wash with a preparation of mercury.

MERCY, n. [L. misericordia.]

1. That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. In this sense, there is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy. That which comes nearest to it is grace. It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being.

The Lord is long-suffering and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty. Numbers 14:18.

2. An act or exercise of mercy or favor. It is a mercy that they escaped.

I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies. Genesis 32:10.

3. Pity; compassion manifested towards a person in distress.

And he said, he that showed mercy on him. Luke 10:37.

4. Clemency and bounty.

Mercy and truth preserve the king; and his throne is upheld by mercy. Proverbs 20:28.

5. Charity, or the duties of charity and benevolence.

I will have mercy and not sacrifice. Matthew 9:13.

6. Grace; favor. 1 Corinthians 7:25; Jude 2.

7. Eternal life, the fruit of mercy. 2 Timothy 1:18.

8. Pardon.

I cry thee mercy with all my heart.

9. The act of sparing, or the forbearance of a violent act expected. The prisoner cried for mercy.

To be or to lie at the mercy of, to have no means of self-defense, but to be dependent for safety on the mercy or compassion of another, or in the power of that which is irresistible; as, to be at the mercy of a foe, or of the waves.

MERCY-SEAT, n. The propitiatory; the covering of the ark of the covenant among the Jews. This was of gold, and its ends were fixed to two cherubs, whose wings extended forward, and formed a kind of throne for the majesty of God, who is represented in Scripture as sitting between the cherubs. It was from this seat that God gave his oracles to Moses, or to the high priest who consulted him.

MERD, n. [L. merda.] Ordure; dung.

MERE, a. [L. merus.] This or that only; distinct from any thing else.

From mere success nothing can be concluded in favor of a nation.

What if the head, the eye or ear repin’d

To serve mere engines to the ruling mind?

1. Absolute; entire.

MERE, n. [L. mare. See Moor.] A pool or lake.
MERE, n. [Gr. to divide.] A boundary; used chiefly in the compound, mere-stone.
MERE, v.t. To divide, limit or bound.

MERELY, adv. Purely; only; solely; thus and no other way; for this and no other purpose.

Price not your life for other ends

Than merely to oblige your friends.

MERETRICIOUS, a. [L. meretricius, from meretrix, a prostitute.]

1. Pertaining to prostitutes; such as in practiced by harlots; as meretricious arts.

2. Alluring by false show; worn for disguise; having a gaudy but deceitful appearance; false; as meretricious dress or ornaments.

MERETRICIOUSLY ,adv. In the manner of prostitutes; with deceitful enticements.

MERETRICIOUSNESS, n. The arts of a prostitute; deceitful enticements.

MERGANSER, n. [L. mergo, to dive.] A water fowl of the genus Mergus; called also goosander.

MERGE, v.t. [L. mergo.] To immerse; to cause to be swallowed up.

The plaintiff became the purchaser and merged his term in the fee.

MERGE, v.i. To be sunk, swallowed or lost.

MERGER, n. [L. mergo, to merge.] In law, a merging or drowning of a less estate in a greater; as when a reversion in fee simple descends to or is purchased by a tenant of the same estate for years, the term for years is merged, lost, annihilated in the inheritance or fee simple estate.

MERIDIAN, n. [L. meridies.]

1. In astronomy and geography, a great circle supposed to be drawn or to pass through the poles of the earth, and the zenith and nadir of any given place, intersecting the equator at right angles, and dividing the hemisphere into eastern and western. Every place on the globe has its meridian, and when the sun arrives at this circle, it is mid-day or noon. whence the name. This circle may be considered to be drawn on the surface of the earth, or it may be considered as a circle in the heavens coinciding with that on the earth.

2. Mid-day, noon.

3. The highest point; as the meridian of life; the meridian of power or of glory.

4. The particular place or state, with regard to local circumstances or things that distinguish it from others. We say, a book is adapted to the meridian of France or Italy; a measure is adapted to the meridian of London or Washington.

Magnetic meridian, a great circle, parallel with the direction of the magnetic needle, and passing through its poles.

MERIDIAN, a. Being on the meridian or at mid-day.

The sun sat high in his meridian tower.

1. Pertaining to the meridian or to mid-day; as the sun’s meridian heat or splendor.

2. Pertaining to the highest point; as, the hero enjoyed his meridian glory.

3. Pertaining to the magnetic meridian.

MERIDIONAL, a. Pertaining to the meridian.

1. Southern.

2. Southerly; having a southern aspect.

Meridional distance is the departure from the meridian, or easting or westing.

MERIDIONALITY, n. The state of being in the meridian.

1. Position in the south; aspect towards the south.

MERIDIONALLY, adv. In the direction of the meridian.

MERIT, n. [L. meritum, from mereo, to earn or deserve.]

1. Desert; goodness or excellence which entitles one to honor or regard; worth; any performance or worth which claims regard or compensation; applied to morals, to excellence in writing, or to valuable services of any kind. Thus we speak of the inability of men to obtain salvation by their own merits. We speak of the merits of an author; the merits of a soldier, etc.

2. Value; excellence; applied to things; as the merits of an essay or poem; the merits of a pointing; the merits of a heroic achievement.

3. Reward deserved; that which is earned or merited.

Those laurel groves, the merits of thy youth.

MERIT, v.t. [L. merito.] To deserve; to earn by active service, or by any valuable performance; to have a right to claim reward in money, regard, honor or happiness. Watts, by his writings, merited the gratitude of the whole christian world. The faithful laborer merits his wages.

A man at best is incapable of meriting any thing from God.

1. To deserve; to have a just title to. Fidelity merits and usually obtains confidence.

2. To deserve, in an ill sense; to have a just title to. Every violation of law merits punishment. Every sin merits God’s displeasure.

MERITABLE, a. Deserving of reward. [Not in use.]

MERITED, pp. Earned; deserved.

MERITING, ppr. Earning; deserving.

MERIT-MONGER, n. One who advocates the doctrine of human merit, as entitled to reward, or depends on merit for salvation.

MERITORIOUS, a. Deserving of reward or of notice, regard, fame or happiness, or of that which shall be a suitable return for services or excellence of any kind. We applaud the meritorious services of the laborer, the soldier and the seaman. We admire the meritorious labors of a Watts, a Doddridge, a Carey and a Martyn. We rely for salvation on the meritorious obedience and sufferings of Christ.

MERITORIOUSLY, adv. In such a manner as to deserve reward.

MERITORIOUSNESS, n. The state or quality of deserving a reward or suitable return.

MERITORY, a. Deserving of reward. [Not used.]

MERLE, n. [L. merula.] A blackbird.

MERLIN, n. A species of hawk of the genus Falco.

MERLON, n. In fortification, that part of a parapet which lies between two embrasures.

MERMAID, n. [L. mare, the sea, and maid.] A marine animal, said to resemble a woman in the upper parts of the body, and a fish in the lower part. The male is called the merman.

MEROPS, n. A genus of birds called bee-eaters.

MERRILY, adv. [from merry.] With mirth; with gayety and laughter; jovially. [See Mirth and Merry.]

Merrily sing and sport and play.

MERRIMAKE, n. [merry and make.] A meeting for mirth; a festival; mirth.

MERRIMAKE, v.i. To be merry or jovial; to feast.

MERRIMENT, n. Mirth; gayety with laughter or noise; noisy sports; hilarity; frolick.

MERRINESS, n. Mirth; gayety with laughter.


1. Gay and noisy; jovial; exhilarated to laughter.

Man is the merriest species of the creation.

They drank and were merry with him. Genesis 43:34.

2. Causing laughter or mirth; as a merry jest.

3. Brisk; as a merry gale. [This is the primary sense of the word.]

4. Pleasant; agreeable; delightful.

To make merry, to be jovial; to indulge in hilarity; to feast with mirth. Judges 9:27.

MERRY-ANDREW, n. A buffoon; a zany; one whose business is to make sport for others.

MERRY-MAKING, a. Producing mirth.

Mirth, music, merry-making melody

Speed the light hours no more at Holyrood.

MERRY-MEETING, n. A festival; a meeting for mirth.

MERRY-THOUGHT, n. The forked bone of a fowl’s breast, which boys and girls break by pulling each one side; the longest part broken betokening priority of marriage.

MERSION, n. [L. mersio, from mergo, to dive or sink.]

The act of sinking or plunging under water. But immersion is generally used.

MESARAIC, a. [Gr. middle, and intestines.] The same as mesenteric; pertaining to the mesentery.

MESEEMS, verb impersonal. [me and seems.] It seems to me. It is used also in the past tense, meseemed.

MESENTERIC, a. [See Mesentery.] Pertaining to the mesentery; as mesenteric glands or arteries.

MESENTERY, n. [Gr. middle, and intestine.] A fatty membrane placed in the middle of the intestines, and to which they are attached. This prevents them from becoming entangled with each other by convolutions. It is formed by a duplicature of the peritoneum.

MESH, n.

1. The opening or space between the threads of a net.

2. The grains or wash of a brewery.

MESH, n.

1. The opening or space between the threads of a net.

2. The grains or wash of a brewery.

MESH, v.t. To catch in a net; to ensnare.

MESHY, a. Formed like net-work; reticulated.

MESLIN, n. [L. miscellaneus, from misceo, to mix.]

A mixture of different sorts of grain; in America, a mixture of wheat and rye.

MESNE, a. meen. In law, middle; intervening; as a mesne lord, that is, a lord who holds land of a superior, but grants a part of it to another person. In this case, he is a tenant to the superior, but lord or superior to the second grantee, and called the mesne lord.

Mesne process, that part of the proceedings in a suit which intervenes between the original process or writ and the final issue, and which issues, pending the suit, on some collateral matter; and sometimes it is understood to be the whole process preceding the execution.

Mesne profits, the profits of an estate which accrue to a tenant in possession, after the demise of the lessor.

MESOCOLON, n. [Gr. middle, and colon.]

In anatomy, that part of the mesentery, which, having reached the extremity of the ileum, contracts and changes its name, or that part of the mesentery to which the colon is attached.

MESOLEUCYS, n. [Gr. middle, and white.]

A precious stone with a streak of white in the middle.

MESOLITE, n. A mineral of the zeolite family.

MESOLOGARITHM, n. [Gr. middle, and logarithm.]

A logarithm of the co-sines and co-tangents.

The former is called by Napier an antilogarithm, the latter a differential.

MESOMELAS, n. [Gr. middle, and black.] A precious stone with a black vein parting every color in the midst.

MESOTYPE, n. [Gr. middle, and form, type.] Prismatic zeolite; a mineral divided into three subspecies, fibrous zeolite, natrolite, and mealy zeolite. This is said by some writers to be so named from its property, when transparent, of doubling images. Others say it is a mean form between stilbite and analcime.

MESPRISE, n. Contempt; a French word. [Not in use.]

MESS, n. [L. mensa.]

1. A dish or a quantity of food prepared or set on a table at one time; as a mess of pottage; a mess of herbs; a mess of broth.

2. A medley; a mixed mass; a quantity.

3. As much provender or grain as is given to a beast at once.

4. A number of persons who eat together; among seamen and soldiers.

MESS, v.i. To eat; to feed.

1. To associate at the same table; to eat in company, as seamen.

MESS, v.t. To supply with a mess.

MESSAGE, n. [L. missus, mitto, to send.]

1. Any notice, word or communication, written or verbal, sent from one person to another. We send a servant with a verbal or written message.

The welcome message made, was soon received.

2. An official written communication of facts or opinions sent by a chief magistrate to the two houses of a legislature or other deliberative body. Congress receives a message from the President of the United States at the opening of the session. The Governors of some of the states communicate to the legislature by message, others by address.

3. An official verbal communication from one branch of a legislature to the other.


1. One who bears a message or an errand; the bearer of a verbal or written communication, notice or invitation from one person to another, or to a public body; one who conveys dispatches from one prince or court to another.

2. A harbinger; a forerunner; he or that which foreshows.

You gray lines

That fret the clouds, are messengers of day.

MESSIAH, a. [Heb. anointed.] Christ, the anointed; the Savior of the world.

I know that when Messiah cometh, who is called Christ, he will tell us all things. Jesus answered her, I that speak to thee am he. John 4:26.

MESSIAHSHIP, n. The character, state or office of the Savior.

Josephus--whose prejudices were against the Messiahship and religion of Jesus.

MESSIEURS, n. [plu. of monsieur, my lord.] Sirs; gentlemen.

MESS-MATE, n. An associate in eating; one who eats ordinarily at the same table.

MESSUAGE, n. In law, a dwelling house and adjoining land, appropriated to the use of the household, including the adjacent buildings.

MET, pret. and pp. of meet.

METABASIS, n. [Gr. from beyond, and to go.] In rhetoric, transition; a passing from one thing to another.

METABOLA, n. [Gr. beyond, and a casting.] In medicine, a change of air, time or disease. [Little used.]

METACARPAL, a. [from metacarpus.] Belonging to the metacarpus.

METACARPUS, n. [Gr. beyond, and the wrist.] In anatomy, the part of the hand between the wrist and the fingers.

METACHRONISM, n. [Gr. beyond, and time.] An error in chronology, by placing an event after its real time.

METAGE, n. [from mete.] Measurement of coal; price of measuring.

METAGRAMMATISM, n. [Gr. beyond, and a letter.]

Anagrammatism, or metagrammatism, is a transposition of the letters of a name into such a connection as to express some perfect sense applicable to the person named.

METAL, n. met’l. [L. metallum.] A simple, fixed, shining, opake body or substance, insoluble in water, fusible by heat, a good conductor of heat and electricity, capable when in the state of an oxyd, of uniting with acids and forming with them metallic salts. Many of the metals also malleable or extensible by the hammer, and some of them extremely ductile. Metals are mostly fossil, sometimes found native or pure, but more generally combined with other matter. Some metals are more malleable than others, and this circumstance gave rise to the distinction of metals and semi-metals; a distinction little regarded at the present day. Recent discoveries have enlarged the list of the metals, and the whole number now recognized is thirty, exclusive of those which have been recently discovered, as the bases of the earths and alkalies. Twelve of these are malleable, viz. platina, gold, silver, mercury, lead, copper, tin, iron, zink, palladium, nickel, and cadmium. The following sixteen are not sufficiently tenacious to bear extension by beating, viz. arsenic, antimony, bismuth, cobalt, manganese, tellurium, titanium, columbium, molybden, tungsten, chrome, osmium, iridium, rhodium, uranium, and cerium.

To these may be added potassium, sodium, barium, strontium, calcium, and lithium.

The following have not been exhibited in a separate form; magnesium, glucinum, yttrium, aluminum, thorinum, zirconium, and silicium.

1. Courage; spirit; so written by mistake for mettle.

METALEPSIS, n. [Gr. participation; beyond, and to take.]

In rhetoric, the continuation of a trope in one word through a succession of significations, or the union of two or more tropes of a different kind in one word, so that several gradations or intervening senses come between the word expressed and the thing intended by it; as “in one Caesar there are many Mariuses.” Here Marius, by a synecdoche or antonomasy, is put for any ambitious, turbulent man, and this, by a metonymy of the cause, for the ill effects of such a temper to the public.

METALEPTIC, a. Pertaining to a metalepsis or participation; translative.

1. Transverse; as the metaleptic motion of a muscle.

METALEPTICALLY, adv. By transposition.

METALLIC, a. [L. metallicus.] Pertaining to a metal or metals; consisting of metal; partaking of the nature of metals; like a metal; as a metallic substance; metallic ore; metallic brightness.

METALLIFEROUS, a. [L. metallum, metal, and fero, to produce.]

Producing metals.

METALLIFORM, a. Having the form of metals; like metal.

METALLINE, a. Pertaining to a metal; consisting of metal.

1. Impregnated with metal; as metalline water.

METALLIST, n. A worker in metals, or one skilled in metals.

METALLIZATION, n. The act or process of forming into a metal; the operation which gives to a substance its proper metallic properties.

METALLIZE, v.t. To form into metal; to give to a substance its proper metallic properties.

METALLOGRAPHY, n. [Gr. metal, and description.] An account of metals, or a treatise on metallic substances.

METALLOID, n. A name sometimes applied to the metallic bases of the alkalies and earths.

METALLOIDAL, a. Having the form or appearance of a metal.