Meaning. The basic meaning is not hard to remember, given that we use the borrowed word "merit" in English. (Likewise in English we use the terms emeritus and emerita also!)
Related Latin words. There are LOTS of related Latin words but my favorite has to be meretrix! There is also merenda, merx and merces,
Etymology. The etymology of the word seems to relate it to a similar word in Greek, μέρος, which means "share" or "portion," the idea then being that merere means "to get your part, to get the portion that is yours."
Usage. The verb takes a variety of different constructions:
- Accusative: Laudem merui. Also, you can "earn payment," as a soldier earns his pay: Meruit stipendia in bello.
- Ut/Ne: Meruit ut decoraretur.
- Infinitive: Mereo sanctus haberi.
Participle. The participle, merens, is commonly used, as in this inscription: HOMINI BENE MERENTISSIMO (not just bene merens, but bene merentissimus!)
Noun. There is a noun, meritum, which means reward or recompense (good or ill). E.g., pro ingentibus meritis praemia acceperant.
Adverb. The adverb merito means "justly, deservedly." It is sometimes accompanied by iure: merito iure. Note also the superlative forms of the adverb: meritissime and also meritissimo.
Here are some examples of today's word in Latin sayings and proverbs; for more information, see the page at the Scala Sapientiae, which contains notes on some of the proverbs cited below, as well as additional proverbs:
Aequo animo poenam qui meruere ferunt.
Fraus meretur fraudem.
Palmam qui meruit, ferat.
Dulcia non meruit, qui non gustavit amara.
Testis in uno falsus, in nullo fidem meretur.
Nemo coronatur, nisi certando mereatur.
Primus error veniam meretur.
Felix qui meruit tranquillam ducere vitam.
Exlex qui vivit, merito sine lege peribit.
Amittit merito proprium qui alienum appetit.
Qui sibimet vivit, aliis merito est mortuus.
Votum solvit libens laetus merito.
Merito hunc manducant sues qui se miscet inter furfures.
Quod pateris merito, patienter ferre memento.
Pravus habet meritis praemia digna suis.
Alienis meritis non superbias.
Non merito, sed fortuito.
Utque hostes armis, meritis sic vincit amicos.
Si panem dederis tristis, et panem et meritum perdidisti.
Merito beneficium legis amittit, qui legem ipsam subvertere intendit.