What does mercenary mean?

Definitions for mercenary
ˈmɜr səˌnɛr imer·ce·na·ry

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word mercenary.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. mercenary, soldier of fortuneadjective

    a person hired to fight for another country than their own

  2. materialistic, mercenary, worldly-mindedadjective

    marked by materialism

  3. mercenary(a), free-lance(a), freelance(a)adjective

    serving for wages in a foreign army

    "mercenary killers"

  4. mercantile, mercenary, moneymaking(a)adjective

    profit oriented

    "a commercial book"; "preached a mercantile and militant patriotism"- John Buchan; "a mercenary enterprise"; "a moneymaking business"


  1. mercenarynoun

    A person employed to fight in an armed conflict who is not a member of the state or military group for which they are fighting and whose prime or sole motivation is private gain.

  2. mercenaryadjective

    motivated by private gain

  3. Etymology: From mercenarius, from merces.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. MERCENARYadjective

    Venal; hired; sold for money; acting only for hire.

    Etymology: mercenaire, Fr. mercenarius, Lat.

    Many of our princes, woe the while!
    Lie drown’d, and soked in mercenary blood. William Shakespeare.

    Divers Almains, who served in the garisons, being merely mercenary, did easily incline to the strongest. Haywood.

    The appellation of servant imports a mercenary temper, and denotes such an one as makes his reward both the sole motive and measure of his obedience. Robert South, Sermons.

    ’Twas not for nothing I the crown resign’d;
    I still must own a mercenary mind. John Dryden, Aurengzebe.

  2. Mercenarynoun

    A hireling; one retained or serving for pay.

    Etymology: mercenaire, Fr.

    He a poor mercenary serves for bread;
    For all his travel, only cloth’d and fed. George Sandys, Paraph.


  1. Mercenary

    A mercenary, sometimes also known as a soldier of fortune or hired gun, is a private individual that joins a military conflict for personal profit, is otherwise an outsider to the conflict, and is not a member of any other official military. Mercenaries fight for money or other forms of payment rather than for political interests. Beginning in the 20th century, mercenaries have increasingly come to be seen as less entitled to protections by rules of war than non-mercenaries. The Geneva Conventions declare that mercenaries are not recognized as legitimate combatants and do not have to be granted the same legal protections as captured service personnel of the armed forces. In practice, whether or not a person is a mercenary may be a matter of degree, as financial and political interests may overlap.


  1. mercenary

    A mercenary is an individual, often a professional soldier, who is hired to fight in an armed conflict or serve a foreign entity for monetary gain or other compensations. They usually have no direct affiliation or loyalty to any specific nation, cause, or party and are primarily motivated by personal profit.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Mercenaryadjective

    acting for reward; serving for pay; paid; hired; hireling; venal; as, mercenary soldiers

  2. Mercenaryadjective

    hence: Moved by considerations of pay or profit; greedy of gain; sordid; selfish

  3. Mercenarynoun

    one who is hired; a hireling; especially, a soldier hired into foreign service


  1. Mercenary

    A mercenary is a person who takes part in an armed conflict, who is not a national or a party to the conflict and is "motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party". As a result of the assumption that a mercenary is essentially motivated by money, the term mercenary usually carries negative connotations. There is a blur in the distinction between a mercenary and a foreign volunteer, when the primary motive of a soldier in a foreign army is uncertain. For instance, the French Foreign Legion and the Gurkhas of the British and Indian armies are not mercenaries under the laws of war, since although they may meet many of the requirements of Article 47 of Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, they are exempt under clauses 47&; some journalists describe them as mercenaries nevertheless. Recently mercenary firm G4S has been reported as the second largest private employer in the world.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Mercenary

    mėr′se-nar-i, adj. hired for money: actuated by the hope of reward: greedy of gain: sold or done for money.—n. one who is hired: a soldier hired into foreign service.—adv. Mer′cenarily. [Fr.,—L., mercenariusmerces, hire.]

Suggested Resources

  1. mercenary

    Song lyrics by mercenary -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by mercenary on the Lyrics.com website.

How to pronounce mercenary?

How to say mercenary in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of mercenary in Chaldean Numerology is: 1

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of mercenary in Pythagorean Numerology is: 3

Examples of mercenary in a Sentence

  1. Bruce Windorski:

    I'm not a mercenary or in love with killing people.

  2. Citizen Lab:

    There's now undeniable evidence... that the mercenary spyware industry is facilitating the spread of authoritarian practices and contributing to massive human rights abuses.

  3. Scott Morrison:

    When they are using people's personal information, details about their homes, it's not just their farm, it's their home, it's where their kids live and grow up, they are being targeted in the most mercenary way by an organisation that can only think of itself and not think to the real damage that is being done to the livelihoods of these hard-working Australians.

  4. Kerry Brown:

    The problem is that the UK can't be seen as being too greedy and mercenary. It's going from one extreme to another.

  5. Teresa Cheng:

    The fact that such a very high-ranking official has uttered words such as ‘mercenary’ is, with respect, disgraceful to such a reputable counsel.

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Translations for mercenary

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"mercenary." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 20 May 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/mercenary>.

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    weak or sickly person especially one morbidly concerned with his or her health
    A currish
    B motile
    C valetudinarian
    D inexpiable

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