ca·​reer | \ kə-ˈrir How to pronounce career (audio) \

Definition of career

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a profession for which one trains and which is undertaken as a permanent calling a career in medicine often used before another noun a career diplomat
2 : a field for or pursuit of consecutive progressive achievement especially in public, professional, or business life Washington's career as a soldier
3a : speed in a course used especially in the phrases in full career or at full career The trumpets sounded, and the knights charged each other in full career.— Sir Walter Scott
b : course, passage the sun's career across the sky


careered; careering; careers

Definition of career (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to go at top speed especially in a headlong manner a car careered off the road

Did you know?

In medieval tournaments, jousting required knights to ride at full speed in short bursts, and the noun career (coming from Middle French carriere) was used to refer to such gallops as well as to the courses that knights rode. The related verb came to mean "to go at top speed." The familiar career, referring to one's job, originated from these uses.

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 career in a Sentence

Noun She hopes to pursue a career in medicine. My career as a waitress lasted one day. During his long career in advertising he won numerous awards and honors. Verb she careered off to the class she'd almost forgotten
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Three years later, Overton picked up the first win of his MLB career. Charlie Goldsmith, The Enquirer, 13 May 2022 Booker's an improved defender as evidenced by his career-best 1.1 steals per game. Duane Rankin, The Arizona Republic, 12 May 2022 Her career is on the verge of collapse after her hunky new editor denied her a deadline extension and her world comes crashing down when her beloved father dies, forcing her to return to the Southern town that never quite understood her., 12 May 2022 Her 16-year career at an Alabama county jail was supposed to end with one last accolade: Her colleagues had voted her corrections employee of the year. Hannah Knowles, Washington Post, 12 May 2022 Experts say one of the defining moments of Zekenskyy’s war-time leadership, if not of his entire political career, was his decision to remain in Kyiv as the Russian forces closed in on the Ukrainian capital in the early hours of the invasion. Yuliya Talmazan, NBC News, 12 May 2022 TakerOne said it’s surreal that his career has evolved into being paid to travel around the world and do public art. Palak Jayswal, The Salt Lake Tribune, 12 May 2022 He’s 24, the 2016 IndyStar Mr. Basketball winner at Lawrence Central, a 2019 NCAA champion at Virginia, now three years into his NBA career. Gregg Doyel, The Indianapolis Star, 12 May 2022 Harrington, who worked in the tech industry before her career in government, buoyed her own campaign last month with two loans totaling $110,000. oregonlive, 11 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb What are some elements of your life and career the theater production of TINA is able to amplify that your biographical film and even recent documentary didn’t? Brande Victorian, Essence, 22 Mar. 2022 Roach is still best known for his relationship with Zendaya, which goes back almost a decade and demonstrates how the red carpet can be used to career advantage. Chantal Fernandez, Harper's BAZAAR, 25 Mar. 2022 Lawson Crouse was on his way to career highs in goals and points in a season. José M. Romero, The Arizona Republic, 15 Mar. 2022 Childbirth and child rearing are the biggest ruptures to career trajectories, particularly among women, and Maven claims that employers who offer its service see a higher return-to-work rate and greater employee satisfaction. Emily Bobrow, WSJ, 4 Mar. 2022 And classrooms dedicated to career tech classes will be added at Hillcrest and Sipsey Valley High Schools. al, 4 Mar. 2022 Ski lifts run during the summer too, giving downhill mountain bikers the chance to career down narrow tracks at breakneck speed. Mary Novakovich, CNN, 11 Feb. 2022 One of Pritzker’s top aides deferred to career state employees when asked why a governor who promotes himself as a clean energy champion would allow a big new source of climate pollution to be built under his watch. Michael Hawthorne,, 28 Dec. 2021 That starts with abandoning the idea that a four-year college degree is a precursor to career success and stability. Nate Davis, Forbes, 24 Sep. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'career.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of career


circa 1534, in the meaning defined at sense 3a


1647, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for career


Middle French carriere, from Old Occitan carriera street, from Medieval Latin carraria road for vehicles, from Latin carrus car

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The first known use of career was circa 1534

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career criminal

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Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Career.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for career


ca·​reer | \ kə-ˈrir How to pronounce career (audio) \

Kids Definition of career

1 : a period of time spent in a job or profession She had a long career in medicine.
2 : a job followed as a life's work He made teaching his career.

More from Merriam-Webster on career

Nglish: Translation of career for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of career for Arabic Speakers


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