Learner's definition of MERCY
1 [noncount] : kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly
He is a vicious criminal who deserves no mercy.
She fell to her knees and asked/begged/pleaded for mercy.
Have you no mercy? = Are you utterly without mercy?
May God have mercy on us all. [=may God treat us all with kindness and forgiveness]
He showed no mercy to his enemies. = He showed his enemies no mercy. [=he treated his enemies very harshly]
The boss took mercy on us [=he treated us kindly] and let us go home early.
a man of mercy [=a man who treats other people with kindness and forgiveness]
The prisoner confessed his crimes and threw himself on the mercy of the court. [=the prisoner begged the court for mercy]
2 [noncount] : kindness or help given to people who are in a very bad or desperate situation 3 [count] : a good or lucky fact or situation
It's a mercy that the building was empty when the fire started.
We should be grateful/thankful for small mercies. [=even though bad things have happened to us, we should be grateful that our situation is not worse]
Thank heaven for small mercies.
4 old-fashioned + informal — used as an interjection to show surprise
Mercy! That wind is cold!
I'm not hungry, but mercy [=heavens, goodness], that food sure does smell good!
Mercy me! That wind is cold.
at the mercy oforat someone's or something's mercy
: in a position or situation in which you can be harmed by (someone or something you cannot control)
With no way to control the ship, we were at the mercy of the sea.
The people were at the mercy of the advancing army. = The army advanced, and the people were at their mercy. [=the people could do nothing to defend themselves from the army]
Our plans were at the mercy of the weather.
to the mercy oforto the (tender) mercies of
: without any protection from (someone or something you cannot control)
He had to leave his boat to the mercy of the storm.
As the army retreated, the people were left to the mercies of the advancing enemy.