Meriones is a rodent genus that includes the gerbil most commonly kept as a pet, Meriones unguiculatus. The genus contains most animals referred to as jirds, but members of the genera Sekeetamys, Brachiones, and sometimes Pachyuromys are also known as jirds. The distribution of Meriones ranges from northern Africa to Mongolia. Meriones jirds tend to inhabit arid regions including clay desert, sandy desert, and steppe, but are also in slightly wetter regions, and are an agricultural pest.
The genus was named by Illiger in 1811, deriving from the Greek word μηρος (femur). However the name is shared with Greek warrior Meriones in Homer's Iliad which has brought confusion to the meaning of the scientific names, specially for the popular pet Mongolian gerbil.