Merit vs Ability - What's the difference?

merit | ability | Synonyms |

In obsolete terms the difference between merit and ability

is that merit is the quality or state of deserving either good or bad; desert while ability is suitableness.

As nouns the difference between merit and ability

is that merit is something deserving positive recognition while ability is suitableness.

As a verb merit

is to earn or to deserve.

Other Comparisons: What's the difference?




(en noun)
  • Something deserving positive recognition.
  • His reward for his merit was a check for $50.
  • Something worthy of a high rating.
  • A claim to commendation or reward.
  • The quality of deserving reward.
  • * Shakespeare
  • Reputation is oft got without merit , and lost without deserving.
  • * Alexander Pope
  • To him the wit of Greece and Rome was known, / And every author's merit , but his own.
  • Reward deserved; any mark or token of excellence or approbation.
  • His teacher gave him ten merits .
  • * Prior
  • those laurel groves, the merits of thy youth
  • (obsolete) The quality or state of deserving either good or bad; desert.
  • * Shakespeare
  • Be it known, that we, the greatest, are misthought / For things that others do; and when we fall, / We answer others' merits in our name.


    * (l) * (l)


    * (l)


    (en verb)
  • To earn or to deserve.
  • *
  • , title=(The Celebrity), chapter=5 , passage=Although the Celebrity was almost impervious to sarcasm, he was now beginning to exhibit visible signs of uneasiness, the consciousness dawning upon him that his eccentricity was not receiving the ovation it merited .}}
  • To be worthy or deserving.
  • (obsolete, rare) To reward.
  • (Chapman)

    Derived terms

    * (l) * (l) * (l) * (l)


    * ----



    Alternative forms

    * (obsolete) hability


  • (obsolete) Suitableness.
  • (uncountable) The quality or state of being able; capacity to do; capacity of doing something; having the necessary power.
  • *{{quote-magazine, date=2013-07-19, author=(Peter Wilby)
  • , volume=189, issue=6, page=30, magazine=(The Guardian Weekly) , title=[ Finland spreads word on schools] , passage=Imagine a country where children do nothing but play until they start compulsory schooling at age seven. Then, without exception, they attend comprehensives until the age of 16. Charging school fees is illegal, and so is sorting pupils into ability groups by streaming or setting.}}
  • The legal wherewithal to act.
  • *{{quote-magazine, date=2013-06-22, volume=407, issue=8841, page=68, magazine=(The Economist)
  • , title=[ T time] , passage=The ability to shift profits to low-tax countries by locating intellectual property in them, which is then licensed to related businesses in high-tax countries, is often assumed to be the preserve of high-tech companies.}}
  • (archaic) Financial ability.
  • (uncountable) A unique power of the mind; a faculty.
  • * (rfdate) (Francis Bacon) (1561-1626)
  • Natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study -
  • (countable) A skill or competence in doing; mental power; talent; aptitude.
  • * (rfdate) (King James Bible) , (w) 11:29
  • Then the disciples, every man according to his ability , determined to send relief unto the brethren.
  • * (rfdate) (1800-1859)
  • The public men of England, with much of a peculiar kind of ability
  • * {{quote-news, year=2011, date=November 10, author=Jeremy Wilson, work=Telegraph
  • , title=[ England Under 21 5 Iceland Under 21 0: match report] , passage=The most persistent tormentor was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who scored a hat-trick in last month’s corresponding fixture in Iceland. His ability to run at defences is instantly striking, but it is his clever use of possession that has persuaded some shrewd judges that he is an even better prospect than Theo Walcott.}}

    Usage notes

    * (skill or competence) Usually used in the plural. * Ability, capacity : these words come into comparison when applied to the higher intellectual powers. ** Ability has reference to the active'' exercise of our faculties. It implies not only native vigor of mind, but that ease and promptitude of execution which arise from mental training. Thus, we speak of the ''ability'' with which a book is written, an argument maintained, a negotiation carried on, etc. It always supposes something to be ''done'',George Crabb, 1826, ''[ English synonymes explained in alphabetical order]'', Collins & Hannay, page 13 and the power of ''doing it. ** Capacity has reference to the receptive'' powers. In its higher exercises it supposes great quickness of apprehension and breadth of intellect, with an uncommon aptitude for acquiring]] and retaining knowledge. Hence it carries with it the idea of ''resources'' and undeveloped power. Thus we speak of the extraordinary ''capacity'' of such men as , and [[w:Edmund Burke, Edmund Burke. "''Capacity''," says H. Taylor, "is requisite to devise, and ''ability to execute, a great enterprise." * The word abilities , in the plural, embraces both these qualities, and denotes high mental endowments.


    * (quality or state of being able) capacity, faculty, capability * (a skill or competence) See * (high level of skill or capability) talent, cleverness, dexterity, aptitude * (suitability or receptiveness to be acted upon) capability, faculty, capacity, aptness, aptitude