Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. Law To punish by a fine imposed arbitrarily at the discretion of the court.
  • transitive v. To punish by imposing an arbitrary penalty.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To impose a fine on; to fine.
  • v. To punish; to make an exaction.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To punish by a pecuniary penalty, the amount of which is not fixed by law, but left to the discretion of the court.
  • transitive v. To punish, in general; to mulct.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To punish by an arbitrary or discretionary fine: as, the court amerced the defendant in the sum of $100.
  • To punish by inflicting a penalty of any kind, as by depriving of some right or privilege, or entailing some loss upon.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. punish with an arbitrary penalty
  • v. punish by a fine imposed arbitrarily by the discretion of the court

Etymologies

Middle English amercen, from Anglo-Norman amercier, from à merci, at the mercy of : à, to (from Latin ad; see ad-) + merci, mercy (from Latin mercēs, wages).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Anglo-Norman amercier, from Old French à ("at") + merci ("mercy"), thus “at the mercy of”; merci from Latin mercedem ("remuneration, favour, mercy"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Let Anah, the son of Zibion, lead a Mule to the temple, and bless God, who amerces the consolation of the creature for the service of Man. (from Jubilate Agno by Christopher Smart)

    December 31, 2007

  • 1. (law) To punish by a fine imposed arbitrarily at the discretion of the court.

    2. To punish by imposing an arbitrary penalty.

    Middle English amercen, from Anglo-Norman amercier, from à merci, at the mercy of : à, to (from Latin ad) + merci, mercy (from Latin mercs, wages).

    how mercenary!

    June 28, 2007