can·​di·​date | \ˈkan-də-ˌdāt, ˈka-nə-, -dət\

Definition of candidate 

1a : one that aspires to or is nominated or qualified for an office, membership, or award a candidate for governor a candidate for "Manager of the Year" the best candidate for the job

b : one likely or suited to undergo or be chosen for something specified a candidate for surgery

2 : a student in the process of meeting final requirements for a degree a PhD candidate

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Roman Fashion Is Responsible for Candidate

When a person running for public office in ancient Rome greeted voters in the Forum, the center of judicial and public business, he wore a toga that had been whitened with chalk. As a result, the Latin word for someone seeking office came to be "candidatus," meaning literally "clothed in white." "Candidatus," in turn, comes from the adjective candidus, meaning "white." "Candidatus" was adopted into English as "candidate" at the beginning of the 17th century.

Examples of candidate in a Sentence

Candidates can apply in person or send a resume. a Ph.D. candidate in linguistics The program has several doctoral candidates.
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Recent Examples on the Web

After all, the West Philly Democrat is the only candidate on the ballot. Chris Brennan,, "Nancy Pelosi pals around with convicted tax dodger at Dems fundraiser in Philly," 13 July 2018 Nevins is not named in this indictment, but the revelation that a candidate also communicated with Russian hackers indicates yet another point of contact in a conspiracy that went beyond Trump’s campaign. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Mueller’s New Indictment Points to Collusion With Russia," 13 July 2018 But Trump wanted another sit-down with one candidate in particular. Brian Bennett, Time, "How Brett Kavanaugh Could Change the Supreme Court—and America," 12 July 2018 At the opposite end, Wendy Rogers, a Republican candidate running for the congressional seat that covers northeastern Arizona, picked up 200 followers overnight, a 6 percent boost at a time when many others were losing them. Ronald J. Hansen, azcentral, "Twitter purge hits John McCain, Ruben Gallego most among Arizona politicos," 12 July 2018 Herbst will compete in the primary along with four other GOP candidates: Mark Boughton, David Stemerman, Bob Stefanowski and Steve Obsitnick. Daniela Altimari,, "Srinivasan Backs Herbst for Governor," 11 July 2018 Cagle has called his talk with former candidate for governor Clay Tippins a private conversation that was never meant to become public, and says it's being taken out of context. NBC News, "Secret tape recordings rock Georgia governor race," 9 July 2018 Calls grew louder Monday for Nathan Boddie, a doctor and member of the Bend City Council, to quit the race for a House seat being vacated by a Republican who is the GOP’s gubernatorial candidate in the November election. Andrew Selsky, The Seattle Times, "Calls for Democratic candidate for state House to quit," 9 July 2018 By contrast, in a contested primary with at least three credible candidates, Democrats mustered only 36,697 total votes. Dan Rodricks,, "On leaving baseball, flipping the First, discovering an awesome tree," 6 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'candidate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of candidate

1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for candidate

Latin candidatus, from candidatus clothed in white, from candidus white; from the white toga worn by candidates for office in ancient Rome

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Statistics for candidate

Last Updated

4 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for candidate

The first known use of candidate was in 1600

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More Definitions for candidate



English Language Learners Definition of candidate

: a person who is trying to be elected

: a person who is being considered for a job, position, award, etc.

: a person who meets all the requirements for something


can·​di·​date | \ˈkan-də-ˌdāt \

Kids Definition of candidate

1 : a person who is trying to be elected a presidential candidate

2 : a person who is being considered for a position or honor a job candidate

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Comments on candidate

What made you want to look up candidate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

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