Wednesday, May 26, 2010


amerce • \uh-MERSS\ • verb
: to punish by a fine whose amount is fixed by the court; broadly : punish

Example Sentence:
"A freeman is not to be amerced for a small offence save in accordance with the manner of the offence.…" (Magna Carta, 1215)

Did you know?
If you break the law, you could find yourself "at the mercy" of the court. As you await your punishment (hoping that the judge will in fact be merciful), you may want to ponder the history of "amerce." It begins with the Old French phrase "a merci," meaning "at (one's) mercy," which in turn gave rise to the Anglo-French verb "amercier" (same meaning as "amerce"). Middle English speakers adopted the French word as "amercien," which was later modernized to "amerce." In addition to the legal use, "amerce" can also be used in a more general sense for the infliction of any sort of punishment, monetary or otherwise.


Your turn to use amerce in a sentence... something like:

I went to court for my speeding ticket and was not only amerced for my infraction, but also for my impertinence.  

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