KJV Dictionary Definition: amerce


AMERCE, v.t. amers'. A verb formed from a for on or at, from L. merces, reward.

1. To inflict a penalty at mercy; to punish by a pecuniary penalty, the amount of which is not fixed by law, but left to the discretion or mercy of the court; as, the court amerced the criminal in the sum of one hundred dollars.

2. To inflict a pecuniary penalty; to punish in general. Milton uses of after amerce; "Millions of spirits amerced of heaven;" but this use seems to be a poetic license.


AMER'CED, pp. Fined at the discretion of a court.


AMERCEMENT, n. amers'ment. A pecuniary penalty inflicted on an offender at the discretion of the court. It differs from a fine, in that the latter is, or was originally, a fixed and certain sum prescribed by statute for an offense; but an amercement is arbitrary. Hence the practice of affeering. See Affeer. But in America, the word fine is now used for a pecuniary penalty which is uncertain; and it is common in statutes, to enact that an offender shall be fined, at the discretion of the court. In England also, fines are now usually discretionary. Thus the word fine has, in a measure, superseded the use of amercement. This word, in old books, is written amerciament.

Amercement royal is a penalty imposed on an officer for a misdemeanor in his office.


AMER'CER, n. One who set a fine at discretion, upon an offender.