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

lurch, pitch, rock, roll, seesaw, sway, toss, wobble (also wabble)

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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

And so Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, one of those who should have had his license pulled, came careening down that road in Randolph, N.H., totally out of control, like a puppy scurrying across a freshly polished floor. Kevin Cullen,, "At the Registry of Motor Vehicles, deadly inefficiency," 2 July 2019 Three previous missions, including Chandrayaan-1, sent probes careening into the lunar south pole to throw up debris clouds on impact that overhead orbiters could chemically analyze. Michael Greshko, National Geographic, "India's historic moon mission launches toward lunar south pole," 22 July 2019 The impact from the crash sent the Jeep and BMW careening into other vehicles nearby., "Second victim in Monday hit-and-run crash, sister of the first victim, dies," 9 July 2019 The person resists standing up, and the officer gives them another shove that has them careening into the camera. Laurel Weibezahn,, "Fort Lauderdale police officer suspended for shoving New Year’s reveler to the ground," 25 June 2019 Five people were injured at the U.S. Open on Friday after a runaway golf cart careened into a group of spectators, the USGA confirmed to CBS News. Matt Mcnulty,, "Runaway U.S. Open Golf Cart Injures 5 Victims Near 16th Hole, 2 Sent to Hospital," 15 June 2019 On April 1, 2009, a big rig driving south on Angeles Crest Highway lost control of its brakes, tore through the intersection at Foothill, killing a Palmdale man and his 12-year-old daughter before careening into the bookstore. Sara Cardine,, "Flintridge Bookstore building listed for $5.35M, but business will stay put for now," 13 June 2019 But the ball hit the bag and careened into the outfield for a double instead. Kyle Newman, The Denver Post, "Rockies erase four-run deficit to beat Cubs, with Ryan McMahon’s RBI single the difference," 10 June 2019 The individual plot lines careen into the custody battle between Celeste and Mary Louise, shifting the show into a courtroom drama — an ugly, painful showdown between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Big Little Lies episode 6, “The Bad Mother,” tries to show why women don’t report abuse," 15 July 2019

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

18 Aug 2019

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

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with careen

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for careen

Spanish Central: Translation of careen

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

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).


to shake or wave menacingly

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