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 Or are the Pelicans about to careen into a familiar skid, following the path of last year’s dreadful 13-game losing streak that ultimately buried the season? Scott Kushner,, "Kushner: Pelicans at crossroads heading into 7-game road trip," 10 Jan. 2021 Her books careen wildly among verb tenses and perspectives. Becca Rothfeld, The New York Review of Books, "Stalled Unstoppable Talkers," 1 Dec. 2020 Trump continued to careen from topic to topic on Sean Hannity's show, promoting conspiracy theories, peddling falsehoods, and launching attacks on Democrats and the media during a roughly 25 minute conversation. Oliver Darcy, CNN, "Coughing Trump tells Hannity he's healthy and ready to hold rallies," 9 Oct. 2020 The speed and momentum caused the Jetta to careen nearly 200 feet down the road and the car’s engine went 436 feet. Wayne K. Roustan,, "Teenager charged 9 months after deadly 91 mph collision," 25 Aug. 2020 Yet politicians seem loath to spend big dollars on protecting schools, despite the likelihood of a second wave with the potential to careen women’s economic equality back to the Mad Men era. Sabrina Maddeaux,, "There’s No Economic Recovery Without Working Moms," 18 Aug. 2020 That leaves O’Keef to do the heavy lifting, with brilliantly wheedling monologues that careen between self-delusion and self-pity. Matthew J. Palm,, "Still funny, but Wanzie’s ‘Ladies’ get sidetracked by nation’s problems | Review," 16 Aug. 2020 By comparison, sliding sports, niche activities that require athletes to careen down tracks of ice on sleds at 80 mph, have been largely ignored. Matthew Futterman, Star Tribune, "Sledding team trained hard for gold in 2010. Some regret it," 6 Aug. 2020 However, if Taylor struggles and Chargers careen toward a cliff, there will be a growing and louder call to begin the Herbert Era. oregonlive, "Will Justin Herbert play in 2020? 10 questions facing the Los Angeles Chargers as NFL training camp opens," 3 Aug. 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

26 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Careen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for careen

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

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