at the mercy of

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at the mercy of

Subject to the control or actions of a particular person or thing. When you're a minor, you're totally at the mercy of your parents. When you travel by public transportation, you're always at the mercy of the weather. Her fate is at the mercy of the jury—it's their decision now.
See also: mercy, of

at the mercy of someone

 and at someone's mercy
Fig. under the control of someone; without defense against someone. We were left at the mercy of the arresting officer. Mrs. Franklin wanted Mr. Franklin at her mercy.
See also: mercy, of

at the mercy of somebody/something

also at somebody's/something's mercy
unable to protect yourself from someone or something The entire movie business is at the mercy of teenage moviegoers. If you're not legally employed, you're at your employer's mercy.
See also: mercy, of

at the mercy of

1. Also, at someone's mercy. Subject to the power of, helpless against, as in The captured rebels were at the mercy of the army commander. [Late 1500s]
2. Without any protection against, as in On top of Mount Washington we were at the mercy of the elements. [Late 1600s]
See also: mercy, of

at the mercy of

Without any protection against; helpless before: drifting in an open boat, at the mercy of the elements.
See also: mercy, of