A demerit is a mark for doing something wrong. Running in the hall at school might get you one demerit. Running in the hall naked could get you a demerit that will go down on your permanent record. Avoid!

A demerit is also a fault or weakness. If you're trying to decide which candidate to vote for, consider the merits and demerits of each. The other kind of demerit is a punishment — a negative mark against someone, especially a student or a member of the military. Your teacher might have a policy of handing out three demerits before requiring students to stay after school for detention. The Old French desmerite combines des-, "not," and merite, "merit," or "worth."

Definitions of demerit

n a quality or feature deserving censure

“they discussed the merits and demerits of her novel”
merit, virtue
any admirable quality or attribute
Type of:
the quality that renders something desirable or valuable or useful

n a mark against a person for misconduct or failure; usually given in school or armed forces

“ten demerits and he loses his privileges”
Type of:
brand, mark, stain, stigma
a symbol of disgrace or infamy

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