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Demerit vs. Merit: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on November 10, 2023
Merit refers to a quality deserving praise or reward, while demerit signifies a fault or disadvantage.

Key Differences

Merit is often used to describe the inherent value or worthiness of something, denoting positive qualities. Demerit, conversely, indicates a flaw or negative aspect that detracts from overall value.
In educational settings, merit can refer to academic achievement or excellence. Demerit, in the same context, often means a mark against someone’s record for misconduct or poor performance.
The concept of merit is central to systems that reward based on skill, achievement, or good conduct. Demerit systems, on the other hand, are used to penalize or indicate negative behavior or qualities.
Recognition of merit can lead to awards, honors, or advancement. Demerits, however, can result in loss of privileges, penalties, or negative consequences.
In a broader sense, merit is associated with virtues and commendable traits. Demerit is linked with shortcomings, disadvantages, or reasons for criticism.

Comparison Chart


A fault or disadvantage
A commendable quality or worthiness

Context in Education

Marks for misconduct or poor performance
Academic achievement or excellence

System Usage

Used to penalize or indicate negatives
Rewards based on skill, achievement


Leads to penalties, loss of privileges
Results in awards, honors, advancement


With shortcomings, disadvantages
With virtues, commendable traits

Demerit and Merit Definitions


A feature deserving censure.
The plan's complexity is its greatest demerit.


Deserving praise or reward.
Her research has considerable merit.


A mark for misconduct.
He received a demerit for arriving late to class.


A commendable quality.
His honesty is a merit that everyone admires.


A negative point against someone or something.
Each demerit reduced his chances of promotion.


Worthiness or excellence.
The scholarship was awarded based on merit.


A reason for disapproval or criticism.
The only demerit of the proposal was its cost.


A reason for approval or support.
The idea's merit was in its simplicity.


A fault or disadvantage.
The car's high fuel consumption was a major demerit.


A positive aspect or advantage.
The plan's main merit is its cost-effectiveness.


A quality or characteristic deserving of blame or censure; a fault.


Superior quality or worth; excellence
A proposal of some merit.
An ill-advised plan without merit.


Absence of merit.


A quality deserving praise or approval; virtue
A store having the merit of being open late.


Demonstrated ability or achievement
Promotions based on merit alone.


Is a demerit a serious flaw?

It can be a serious flaw, depending on the context.

Can merit be based on achievements?

Yes, merit is often based on achievements or good conduct.

What is a demerit?

A demerit is a fault or disadvantage of something or someone.

What does merit indicate in education?

In education, merit often indicates academic excellence.

Can demerit mean a punitive mark?

Yes, in educational or organizational contexts, it can mean a punitive mark.

Are demerits always negative?

Yes, demerits are used to signify negative qualities or actions.

Can merit lead to rewards?

Yes, merit can lead to rewards like scholarships or promotions.

How is merit used?

Merit refers to a quality deserving praise or reward.

Are demerits common in schools?

Yes, many schools use demerits as part of disciplinary policies.

Are demerits used in behavior management?

Yes, demerits are often used in systems for managing behavior.

Is merit related to personal qualities?

Yes, merit can refer to personal qualities like honesty or diligence.

Is merit important in professional settings?

Yes, merit is important for evaluations and advancements in many professions.

Do demerits always lead to punishment?

Not always, but they can lead to negative consequences.

Can merit be subjective?

Yes, assessments of merit can sometimes be subjective.

Is merit a factor in scholarship awards?

Yes, many scholarships are awarded based on merit.

Can a person have demerits?

Yes, a person can have demerits in the form of faults or misconduct.

Does merit always mean excellence?

Not always, but it often implies some form of excellence or worthiness.

Can demerits affect career prospects?

Yes, demerits can negatively affect career prospects.

Can demerits be removed or corrected?

In some systems, demerits can be removed or corrected through positive actions.

Does merit relate to fairness?

Yes, merit often relates to fairness in recognizing achievements or abilities.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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