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Meritorious vs maritorious

Meritorious and maritorious are two words that are sometimes confused, but mean very different things. We will examine the definitions of meritorious and maritorious, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Meritorious means deserving of praise, deserving a reward. In American English, meritorious may be used as a legal term to denote a case that is likely to succeed on its merits. The word meritorious is derived from the Latin word meritorius, meaning for which money is earned or paid. Related words are merit, merits, merited, meriting, meritoriously. 

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Maritorious means to be fond of one’s husband. The word maritorious is derived from the Latin word maritus, which means husband. The Oxford English Dictionary lists maritorious as a nonce-word, which is a word that is coined by a particular writer to fit into a particular circumstance. This occured in 1607, when George Chapman used the word maritorious to make a bad pun in his work Bussy D’Ambois. Today, the word maritorious is only seen as a misspelling of the word meritorious.

Examples

The BJP today released its vision document for Uttarakhand which promises a slew of freebies for the education sector including distribution of free laptops and smartphones among meritorious students besides giving a boost to health facilities and making them available to every section of society. (The Daily News & Analysis)

Richard Bromell ASFAV, Charterhouse Director said: “Francis Mason was not only awarded a Meritorious Service Medal, but also a Military Medal for bravery in the field – which is quite a scarce gallantry award with just over 15,000 such medals awarded in the Second World War”. (Blackmore Vale Magazine)

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