c.1175, "God's forgiveness of his creatures' offenses," from O.Fr. mercit, merci "reward, gift, kindness," from L. mercedem (nom. merces) "reward, wages, hire" (in V.L. "favor, pity"), from merx (gen. mercis) "wares, merchandise." In Church L. (6c.) applied to the heavenly reward of those who show kindness to the helpless. Meaning "disposition to forgive or show compassion" is attested from c.1225. As an interjection, attested from c.1240. In Fr. largely superseded by miséricorde except as a word of thanks. Seat of mercy "golden covering of the Ark of the Covenant" (1530) is Tyndale's loan-translation of Luther's gnadenstuhl, an inexact rendering of Heb. kapporeth, lit. "propitiatory."