ca·​reen | \ kə-ˈrēn How to pronounce careen (audio) \
careened; careening; careens

Definition of careen

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to put (a ship or boat) on a beach especially in order to clean, caulk, or repair the hull
2 : to cause to heel over High waves careened the boat.

intransitive verb

1a : to clean, caulk, or repair the hull of a boat
b : to undergo this process
2 : to heel over
3 : to sway from side to side : lurch a careening carriage being pulled wildly … by a team of runaway horses— J. P. Getty
4 : career The car careened down the hill.



Definition of careen (Entry 2 of 2)

: the act or process of careening : the state of being careened

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Synonyms for careen

Synonyms: Verb

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Careen and Career


Some people might be confused by the warning to not confuse careen and career, because the most common sense of career ("a profession") is not much like any of the meanings of careen. But when employed as a verb, career does have some semantic overlap with careen; both words may be used to mean "to go at top speed especially in a headlong manner." A car, for instance, may either careen or career. Some usage guides hold, however, that the car is only careening if there is side-to-side motion, as careen has other meanings related to movement, among which is "to sway from side to side."

Examples of careen in a Sentence

Verb the sled careened as it barreled down the hill he careened unsteadily to the couch after hitting his head
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Elsewhere in time, the politician performs his social role in the manner of a careening race car that strains to hold its balance around a curve without tipping over or crashing. Ai Weiwei, The Atlantic, "When Time Loses All Meaning," 2 June 2020 Scores of singers, songwriters and even banjo-picking comedians converged on a neighborhood — and American culture — when society itself, to quote Dickens, careened between the best of times and the worst of times. Michael Granberry, Dallas News, "Laurel Canyon, once home to Harry Houdini, the Doors and the Eagles, is being lionized — again," 31 May 2020 Even as the global economy careens toward recession, some bitcoin bulls can be heard roaring above the fray. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Where will bitcoin go after ‘The Halvening’?," 29 Apr. 2020 The coronavirus pandemic has sent students at residential colleges careening back to their families’ homes. Sarah Todd, Quartz, "Economists explain why US college students won’t be getting big refunds on spring tuition," 28 Apr. 2020 The tone is oddly perfect for a moment in which the national mood seemingly careens between despair and a manic can-do attitude every hour. Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic, "I Risked My Life During a Pandemic and All I Got Was This T-shirt," 27 Apr. 2020 And while the , had its enlightening moments, a viewer couldn’t help but feel that the whole thing had careened, more than slightly, out of control. Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post, "The moderators let the Democratic debate spiral into chaos and crosstalk. There must be a better way.," 26 Feb. 2020 All of those balls careening off the rim from errant Citadel 3s helped pad Cockburn’s rebound total. Terry Towery,, "Kofi Cockburn breaks an Illinois freshman record with 17 rebounds in an 85-57 win over The Citadel," 20 Nov. 2019 Clips from a 1924 film show one of the later, four-wheeled Leyat models careening through a park and down narrow city passages and past onlookers frozen in terror. Popular Mechanics, "This Was Once the Most Preposterous Vehicle Known to Man," 24 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'careen.' 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 careen


circa 1583, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1712, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for careen


from carine side of a ship, from Middle French, submerged part of a hull, from Latin carina hull, half of a nutshell; perhaps akin to Greek karyon nut

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Time Traveler for careen

Time Traveler

The first known use of careen was circa 1583

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Statistics for careen

Last Updated

8 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Careen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for careen


How to pronounce careen (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of careen

US : to go forward quickly without control


ca·​reen | \ kə-ˈrēn How to pronounce careen (audio) \
careened; careening

Kids Definition of careen

: to go at high speed without control

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More from Merriam-Webster on careen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for careen

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with careen

Spanish Central: Translation of careen

Nglish: Translation of careen for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about careen

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