fem. proper name, from Spanish, abbreviation of Maria de las Mercedes "Mary of the Mercies," from plural of merced "mercy, grace," from Latin mercedem (nominative merces) "hire, pay, wage, salary; rent, income; a price for anything;" see mercy. The early Christians gave a spiritual meaning to the purely financial classical senses of the Latin word, which also, in its original senses, entered Middle English as mercede "wages" (late 14c.).

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