You might not want to call a mercenary a "hireling" to his face, but a mercenary is, after all, a soldier who gets paid to fight where needed, sometimes taking a heroic stand and other times just wanting payment for fighting.

The word mercenary comes from the Latin mercēnārius, "hireling," which defines someone who will do anything in exchange for money. In history, a mercenary was often a fighter who followed the next paycheck, but in recent decades it's also been used for fighters who pursue a good cause in areas where soldiers are in short supply. A synonym for mercenary is "soldier of fortune," and this phrase sometimes glorifies the mercenary, turning the meaning of "fortune" from "cash" to "luck in battle."

Definitions of mercenary

n a person hired to fight for another country than their own

soldier of fortune
a member of the ninja who were trained in martial arts and hired for espionage or sabotage or assassinations; a person skilled in ninjutsu
Type of:
adventurer, venturer
a person who enjoys taking risks

adj profit oriented

“a mercenary enterprise”
mercantile, moneymaking
connected with or engaged in or sponsored by or used in commerce or commercial enterprises

adj serving for wages in a foreign army

mercenary killers”
free-lance, freelance
marked by the reception of pay

adj marked by materialism

materialistic, worldly-minded
secular, temporal, worldly
characteristic of or devoted to the temporal world as opposed to the spiritual world

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