Difference between Merit and Distinction

Key Difference: Merit is someone receiving an award for their good work. Distinction is when one is given an award for being an expert in his/her field.

According to Dictionary.com, Merit is:

  • Claim to respect and praise; excellence; worth.
  • Something that deserves or justifies a reward or commendation; a commendable quality, act, etc.: the book's only merit is its sincerity.
  • Merits, the inherent rights and wrongs of a matter, as a lawsuit, un-obscured by procedural details, technicalities, personal feelings, etc.: the case will be decided on its merits alone.
  • Often, merits. The state or fact of deserving; desert: to treat people according to their merits.
  • Worthiness of spiritual reward, acquired by righteous acts made under the influence of grace.

The term merit commonly refers to the positive charateristics or the worthiness of an object. Furthermore, when a person has completed a course and understood that if he has achieved 3 credits out of 4, then he would be awarded by a ‘Merit’ grading. A merit basically shows that one has put forth more effort and was prominent than other students in the class. A merit means one is pass, but one gets a merit for good work and overall effort in the academic year. 

According to Dictionary.com, Distinction is:

  • A marking off or distinguishing as different.
  • The recognizing or noting of differences; discrimination: to make a distinction between right and wrong.
  • Discrimination made between things as different; special regard or favoritism: Death comes to all without distinction.
  • Condition of being different; difference.
  • A distinguishing quality or characteristic.

Distinction has many different definitions. The most prominant one is to make a distinction, i.e. to find out the differences between the objects and topics. The term is also used to highlight the fact that something is different from the others, i.e. better made or done, and to highligth the object as special. However, in context to merit, a distinction is a grading mark that is above 75%. It is a mark that one has put real effort and getting above average grades. 

Comparison between Merit and Distinction:

 

Merit

Distinction

Description

  • Claim to respect and praise; excellence; worth.
  • Something that deserves or justifies a reward or commendation; a commendable quality, act, etc.: the book's only merit is its sincerity.
  • A marking off or distinguishing as different.
  • The recognizing or noting of differences; discrimination: to make a distinction between right and wrong.

What matters

For merit, overall activity matters.

For distinction, only study matters.

Examples

  • Studentships will be awarded on the basis of merit.
  • Each should stand on its own merit.
  • Merit of simplicity in method and results.
  • Lee passed his dissertation defense with distinction today.
  • It will be really hard to make a distinction.
  • John is a graduate with distinction.

Image Courtesy: barrandbarr.com, maa.org

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