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ca·​reer kə-ˈrir How to pronounce career (audio)
: 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
: a field for or pursuit of consecutive progressive achievement especially in public, professional, or business life
Washington's career as a soldier
: 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
: course, passage
the sun's career across the sky


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careered; careering; careers

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.

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."

Example Sentences

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
Collins is considered a straight-shooter who does not report with a political bent, although the Alabama native began her journalism career at the Daily Caller, a conservative news website that Carlson founded. Stephen Battaglio, Los Angeles Times, 17 May 2023 Born in New York in 1964, Refoua began his editing career on television in the early 1990s. Abid Rahman, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 May 2023 Since beginning his journalism career in 2010, he's worked at local college newspapers The Ranger and The Mesquite. Jacob Beltran, San Antonio Express-News, 17 May 2023 Her acting career never amounted to much beyond some bit roles. Nina Metz, Chicago Tribune, 17 May 2023 Having recently won the Oscar for lead actress, Yeoh will speak about her prolific career in film and television. William Earl, Variety, 17 May 2023 Things didn’t go as planned for the former LSU shortstop turned third baseman, beginning his major league career 0 for 18 at the plate. James Mueller, Chron, 16 May 2023 His first career hit was a hustle double to center field, a line drive that left his bat at 107 mph and remained in front of the center fielder. Bobby Nightengale, The Enquirer, 16 May 2023 Depp's court cases have resulted in several career setbacks. Joy Ashford, USA TODAY, 16 May 2023
The sponsors provide scholarships for National Merit finalists who are children of their employees, residents of communities the company serves, or who plan to pursue college majors or careers the sponsor wishes to encourage. Laura Groch, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 May 2023 Early on the morning of May 6, 1682, the Royal Navy warship Gloucester careered into a large sandbank off the port of Yarmouth. Jenny Uglow, The New York Review of Books, 4 May 2023 She was raised in bohemian mayhem, as her parents careered from film sets and exotic locales to the homes of jet set friends like Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda. Penelope Green, New York Times, 28 Apr. 2023 Nobody knows exactly who was first to shout that the bottled water emperors had no clothes, but fashionistas will always jump on a bandwagon and this one is now careering through American and European cities. Emily Heil, Washington Post, 31 Mar. 2023 Franklin's lows as spectacularly as her highs, from family conflicts to career burnout to self-destruction and battles with addiction. WIRED, 17 Jan. 2023 And for those whose jobs have remained solid, there’s no downside to career cushioning. Jane Thier, Fortune, 27 Dec. 2022 Rosillo’s film tracks Canales career through avant garde staging and interviews. Callum Mclennan, Variety, 10 Nov. 2022 Portland Community College could not immediately provide data for the representation of English learners in the school’s welding or career technical education programs. oregonlive, 27 Oct. 2022 See More

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

Word History



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

First Known Use


circa 1534, in the meaning defined at sense 3a


1647, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of career was circa 1534


Dictionary Entries Near career

Cite this Entry

“Career.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
ca·​reer kə-ˈri(ə)r How to pronounce career (audio)
: full speed or activity
in full career
: a course of continued progress or activity
: a profession followed as a permanent occupation


2 of 2 verb
: to go at top speed
a car careered off the road

More from Merriam-Webster on career

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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