Difference Between Mercy and Forgiveness

Main Difference – Mercy vs Forgiveness

Mercy and forgiveness are two terms that can be used interchangeably in some contexts. However, these two terms have distinctive individual meanings. Mercy refers to the kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly. Forgiveness refers to letting go of the anger and resentment against a person. This is the main difference between mercy and forgiveness.  

In this article, we’ll look at,

1. What Does Mercy Mean – Meaning, Characteristics, and Usage of the word Mercy

2. What Does Forgiveness mean – Meaning, Characteristics, and Usage of the word Forgiveness

3. What is the difference between Mercy and Forgiveness 

Difference Between Mercy and Forgiveness- Mercy vs Forgiveness Comparison Summary

What is Mercy

Mercy is a broad term that can refer forgiveness, benevolence, and kindness in a variety of ethical, social, religious and legal contexts. The term mercy is specially used in religion since the concept of a ‘merciful god’ appears in many religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.  Kind acts such as giving alms and caring for the sick are also considered as acts of mercy.

In a legal and social context, mercy can be described as the qualities of compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone, especially one over whom, you have authority. For example, consider a situation where a judge shows mercy towards a convict. Mercy can also refer to relief from pain and suffering. For example, mercy killing is killing a patient suffering from a painful and incurable disease.

She fell to her knees and begged for mercy.

This vicious criminal does not deserve mercy.

He killed them all without showing any mercy.

Power without mercy is very dangerous.              

Main Difference - Mercy vs Forgiveness

Works of Mercy

What is Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the action of forgiving someone. You forgive someone when you stop feeling angry or resentful towards that person for an offence, flaw, or mistake he or she has committed. It is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim of an offense or crime undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding the offense and let go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, hatred, and anger. Generally, the offender has to offer some form of apology, acknowledgment, etc. in order for the wronged person to forgive him.

The nature of forgiveness is taught in most of the religions in the world. In addition, recent research has discovered that those who forgive are happier and healthier than those who hold grudges and resentments.

They begged for her forgiveness.

Religion teaches people the value of forgiveness.

He was quick to ask for forgiveness when he has made a mistake.

Difference Between Mercy and Forgiveness

Difference Between Mercy and Forgiveness


Mercy is compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone, especially someone over whom, you have authority.

Forgiveness is letting go of past grudges or lingering anger against a person.


Mercy can also refer to relief from suffering and pain.

Forgiveness can refer to letting go of the resentment and anger.


Mercy is a combination of forgiveness, benevolence, and compassion.

Forgiveness is a positive feeling.

Image Courtesy:

“Asking For Forgiveness”   via

“1605 Francken Sieben Werke der Barmherzigkeit anagoria” By Frans Francken the Younger – anagoria (Public Domain) via  

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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