Definition of mercenary in English:

mercenary

adjective

  • Primarily concerned with making money at the expense of ethics.

    ‘she's nothing but a mercenary little gold-digger’
    • ‘In his writing on India, Marx shows himself under no illusions concerning the brutal and mercenary nature of British rule.’
    • ‘Talk about good times for it's mercenary culture.’
    • ‘Canadians, I truly believe, are not mercenary beings.’
    • ‘But in this day and age, with so many mercenary lawyers around, talking libel and slander, you cannot even speak ill of the living without caution.’
    • ‘But not before John had his fill of mercenary musicianship.’
    • ‘Not unconnected with these two mercenary characters are the Cohens, the family with whom the saintly Mordecai lodges.’
    • ‘I decided I couldn't be pressed like this, the third job involved no relocation and would be better for my CV, if you want to look at it in purely mercenary terms.’
    • ‘You know, these men are over there and women are over there as volunteers, but they're not over there as mercenary volunteers.’
    • ‘And yet their aims are no less self-serving and their interests no less mercenary than those of any other union.’
    • ‘It'll probably be merchandised like hell, but it definitely feels less mercenary than a lot of other children's entertainment.’
    • ‘I don't mean to mischaracterize what you're saying, but it makes it sound like Americans are very mercenary.’
    • ‘It becomes an authentic spiritual experience only if it is totally free from selfish and mercenary interests on the part of those who facilitate it.’
    • ‘Even in this mercenary age, with the entire football agenda being driven by money, that might be too much for the clubs concerned to contemplate.’
    • ‘We positively celebrate mercenary motives these days in most areas of life.’
    • ‘These cameras may have been launched with improved road safety in mind but they've been hijacked for mercenary reasons.’
    • ‘They are both mercenary worlds where relationships are only relative to the next rung on the ladder of success.’
    • ‘When the public purse snapped shut, they resorted to ever more mercenary ways of earning a crust.’
    • ‘In case that sounds completely mercenary he's also an old friend, and it would be good to see him again.’
    • ‘She married him for purely mercenary reasons because she was a single mother with no means of support.’
    • ‘An investor is very much afraid of the slow and mercenary courts, and of the factors of corruption and crime.’
    money-oriented, grasping, greedy, acquisitive, avaricious, covetous, rapacious, bribable, venal, materialistic
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nounmercenaries

  • 1A professional soldier hired to serve in a foreign army.

    ‘he had planned to seize power with the aid of a group of mercenaries’
    • ‘It is hard to believe that the country would hire foreign mercenaries for military and daily operations.’
    • ‘Instead, they massed a large army, hired mercenaries, and attacked both places at once.’
    • ‘Machiavelli goes on to specify that armies are basically of two types: hired mercenaries and citizen militias.’
    • ‘He became a professional soldier, a mercenary, fighting wars and killing people and being completely detached from it all.’
    • ‘No doubt the bowman is a mercenary hired by my former Sergeant-of-Arms.’
    • ‘My father had no time for Ansgar, just because he had been a mercenary and a common soldier.’
    • ‘Is the Pentagon privatizing the military or is it simply hiring mercenaries?’
    • ‘I am placing an ad in Soldier of Fortune magazine to hire a mercenary to kill me at this very moment.’
    • ‘Being in the Army, the mercenary had maps of every conceivable place on the planet.’
    • ‘In addition, she keeps a small army of mercenaries and slaves to be activated whenever she sees fit.’
    • ‘Before he fell, he raised the grenade launcher and pointed it at the small army of mercenaries and undead.’
    • ‘In 1640, he inherited an army made up of mercenaries who lacked loyalty in the best of times.’
    • ‘Six years ago, he became a mercenary for a private military corporation.’
    • ‘Both risings were put down later in the summer, the royal forces being augmented by foreign mercenaries gathered for war against the Scots.’
    • ‘The profession of mercenary is one of the oldest in the world.’
    • ‘She was a soldier, a mercenary, a spy on a mission to save the world.’
    • ‘The player is always a soldier, a mercenary on the player's base.’
    • ‘Unlike mercenaries, soldiers need to know when they go to battle that they are going there for a purpose.’
    • ‘Third, there is also a potential continuing supply of mercenaries as regular soldiers are demobilized.’
    • ‘For the most part, when war was deemed necessary they hired mercenaries to do the fighting.’
    soldier of fortune, professional soldier, hired soldier, hireling
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A person primarily motivated by personal gain.
      ‘cricket's most infamous mercenary’
      • ‘Richardson pits this code explicitly against Matilda's nefarious campaign to sign Gerald on as her personal mercenary.’
      • ‘NZPundit seems to think that my comments on mercenaries apply to people like this man.’
      • ‘The first, clause 7, relates to recruiting a person to be a mercenary, and I guess that is something.’
      • ‘So right now I have to get the Aberdeen team playing a lot better than they are now, stay around for a while and show that I am a rugby person, and not a mercenary.’
      • ‘Critics called him mercenary and his unhurried, self-possessed manner could make him unfathomable.’
      • ‘I enjoy being totally mercenary about supporting people I like in print.’
      • ‘Last Wednesday demonstrated that we have gone beyond the problems posed by the West Lothian Question proper and are now confronted by a contingent of rogue MPs who are as mercenary as they are unaccountable.’
      • ‘In these games you play as Bolton on a world tour as a mercenary for hire.’
      • ‘They are political mercenaries, hired because they can keep ministers at arms' length from the media and the less savoury side of politics.’
      • ‘Moving from project to project, workers will become intellectual mercenaries.’

Origin

Late Middle English (as a noun): from Latin mercenarius ‘hireling’, from merces, merced- ‘reward’.

Pronunciation

mercenary

/ˈməːsɪn(ə)ri/