Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Date: 1300-1400
Language: Latin
Origin: merus 'pure, unmixed'

mere

1 adjective
     
mere1 W3 superlative merest [only before noun, no comparative]
1 used to emphasize how small or unimportant something or someone is:
She lost the election by a mere 20 votes.
He's a mere child.
It can't be a mere coincidence that they left at the same time.
2 used to emphasize that something which is small or not extreme has a big effect or is important:
The merest little noise makes him nervous.
The mere thought of food made her feel sick.
The mere fact that the talks are continuing is a positive sign.

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