The noun is derived from Middle English merit, merite, from Anglo-Norman merit, merite, Old French merite ("moral worth, reward; merit") (modern French mérite), from Latin meritum ("that which one deserves, deserts; benefit, reward, merit; service; kindness; importance, value, worth; blame, demerit, fault; grounds, reason"), neuter of meritus, perfect passive participle of mereō, from Proto-Indo-European *(s)mer- ("to allot, assign"). The English word is probably cognate with Ancient Greek μέρος ("component, part; portion, share; destiny, fate, lot") and cognate with Old Occitan merit.
The verb is derived from Middle French meriter, Old French meriter ("to deserve, merit") (modern French mériter), from merite: see further above. The word is cognate with Italian meritare ("to deserve, merit; to be worth; to earn"), Latin meritāre ("to earn regularly; to serve as a soldier"), Spanish meritar ("to deserve, merit; to earn").
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