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

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

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


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

Did you know?

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
However, Tae-sung manages to careen into Young-soo’s car first, stopping him from hitting Sun-jae. Kayti Burt, TIME, 31 May 2024 Caitlin Clark spent most of her first visit to Los Angeles stuck in terrible traffic Friday, stalling and swerving and slamming the brakes as her Indiana Fever team careened toward embarrassment. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, 25 May 2024
The former president, facing four indictments and several lawsuits while seeking to reclaim the White House, careens from one case to the next, seeking to exert control over witnesses. Alan Feuer, New York Times, 30 Mar. 2024 In the latest installment, Riley's ex-husband careens back into her life begging for help, and her private investigator boyfriend Nick Santiago doesn't want to get involved. Lizz Schumer, Peoplemag, 22 Mar. 2024 See all Example Sentences for careen 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'careen.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


circa 1583, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1712, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of careen was circa 1583

Dictionary Entries Near careen

Cite this Entry

“Careen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


: to cause a boat to lean or tilt over on one side for cleaning or repairing
: to sway from side to side

More from Merriam-Webster on careen

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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