ca·​reen | \kə-ˈrēn \
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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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


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

But beneath this patina of prosperity, many cities are careening toward bankruptcy. Allysia Finley, WSJ, "Why California Is Losing Teachers and Laying Off Secretaries," 29 June 2018 According to New Times, his relationship with Geneva Ayala also began careening from one violent episode to another. Kyle Swenson,, "XXXTentacion: The nasty, brutish and short life of the chart-topping rapper," 20 June 2018 The ball landed short right of the green on an upslope and careened back into the water. Daniel Rapaport,, "Best Masters Memories From the Past 20 Years: No. 5 - Spieth's Implosion at 12," 31 Mar. 2018 But his craft is slick — the film moves and careens efficiently, held together with drum-tight editing. Katie Walsh, kansascity, "‘Death Wish’ just feels wrong in this age of gun violence | The Kansas City Star," 1 Mar. 2018 But there’s been no agreement, and the two parties are careening toward a court showdown, with a pretrial conference scheduled for August. Adam Vaccaro,, "How a South Boston real estate fight could delay new MBTA Red Line cars," 2 July 2018 Cato careens out the door, past Bill and straight for me – airborne. Sue Hertz,, "Learning to roll with Canadian June," 25 Apr. 2018 Owners of private balconies overlooking the action charge spectators $164 per person to view the bulls and the runners careening down the town's ancient streets. Aritz Parra, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Macho' Spanish bull festival feels heat from #MeToo, animal rights activists," 6 July 2018 The agreement was the latest twist in a topsy-turvy week for Italian politics, one that on Tuesday had sent global markets tumbling amid jitters that the country was careening toward a new vote and a possible euro exit. Washington Post, "Italy reaches a deal on a new government, ending a crisis that rattled global markets," 4 June 2018

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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Statistics for careen

Last Updated

10 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for careen

The first known use of careen was circa 1583

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More Definitions for careen



English Language Learners Definition of careen

: to go forward quickly without control


ca·​reen | \kə-ˈrēn \
careened; careening

Kids Definition of careen

: to go at high speed without control

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Comments on careen

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


a private place of worship

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