career

noun
ca·​reer | \ kə-ˈrir \

Definition of career

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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
3 : a field for or pursuit of consecutive progressive achievement especially in public, professional, or business life Washington's career as a soldier
4 : 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

career

verb
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

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Careen and Career

Verb

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."

Did You Know?

Verb

Chances are you're very familiar with the noun career meaning "a profession followed as a permanent occupation." What you may not know is that the word career got its start in the world of medieval tournaments. Jousting required knights to ride at full speed in short bursts, and 16th-century English speakers used the noun "career" (from Middle French carriere) to refer to such gallops as well as to the courses knights rode. By the mid-17th century, the verb had acquired its general "go fast" meaning, and by the 19th century the noun had developed the workaday use that is common today. (In case you're wondering, "career" is not related to "careen," which also means "to move at high speed"; "careen" has nautical origins, tracing to the Latin word for "hull.")

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Are there any moments of sexism that stand out throughout your career? Rebecca Nelson, Marie Claire, "2019's Barrier-Breaking Politicians Get to Work," 3 Jan. 2019 Plus, Brooklyn artist Tom Fruin has made a career of creating contemporary stained glass installations around the world. Jennifer Fernandez, House Beautiful, "Why You Should Be Decorating With Stained Glass," 29 Dec. 2018 But Trump has chosen, throughout his career, to do things (like declare bankruptcy) that might look bad in order to make problems disappear. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "What Will Actually Happen to Trump?," 19 Dec. 2018 Throughout his career, Wallace has kept his politics to himself, acknowledging only that he was registered as a Democrat; to do otherwise as a resident of reliably blue Washington, DC, means having no say in the local primaries. Andrew Goldman, Town & Country, "Chris Wallace Is Fox News's Man in the Middle," 17 Nov. 2018 There are few country music stars as renown as Kenny Chesney, which is likely why he’s been nominated for the Entertainer title over 10 times (and won four) throughout his career. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Everything to Know About the CMA Awards 2018 Entertainer of the Year Nominees," 12 Nov. 2018 Throughout his career, Dutch designer Joris Laarman has pushed the boundaries of what’s possible with a 3D printer. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "This 3D-printed steel bridge will be installed over an Amsterdam canal," 23 Oct. 2018 But his career was also marked by controversy: He was fired from Twitter for poor management and was recently the target of an HR complaint at HQ Trivia. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: A Russian disinformation campaign used every major social media platform to help elect President Trump," 17 Dec. 2018 Berezin spent the later years of her career as a venture capitalist. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Computing pioneer Evelyn Berezin died this week—she should be remembered," 15 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Later that month, a van careered into a crowd near a London mosque, and one man died. Joanna Sugden, WSJ, "Car Crashes Outside U.K. Parliament in Suspected Terror Attack," 14 Aug. 2018 Sputnik Chic With the United States and Russia expelling diplomats, many people worry that the countries are careering toward another Cold War. New York Times, "Trends in Design and Home Furnishings," 8 May 2018 The males can be quite aggressive with other like-minded, mating males, and chase scenes featuring two or more brilliant yellow birds careering through the vegetation are not unusual. New York Times, "Beautiful and Brutal," 31 May 2018 Students now get almost no exposure to career opportunities in high school. Anthony P. Carnevale, Washington Post, "The Education and Labor departments were made for each other," 22 June 2018 Over the last 32 months, 152 players, ranging from veteran All-Stars to career minor leaguers, have been welcomed to Seattle or said goodbye to it. Jon Tayler, SI.com, "How Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto Wheeled and Dealed His Way to First-Half Success," 22 June 2018 While some scholars argue that Putin’s Russia is careering downward, others rank it second only to the United States. Simon Saradzhyan, Washington Post, "Is Vladimir Putin’s Russia in decline? We figured out how to measure ‘national power.’," 20 June 2018 On the field, his Russian teammates were careering toward him. Rory Smith, New York Times, "For Russia, Five Goals and One Big Sigh of Relief," 14 June 2018 Watson is Penn’s all-time record holder for receiving touchdowns in a season (14), career receptions (286), career receiving yards (3,777), career receiving touchdowns (33) and career all-purpose yards (4,116). Philly.com Staff, Philly.com, "2017 fall college academic all-area teams," 31 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of career

Noun

circa 1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1647, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for career

Noun

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

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Statistics for career

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for career

The first known use of career was circa 1534

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More Definitions for career

career

noun

English Language Learners Definition of career

: a job or profession that someone does for a long time

: a period of time spent in a job or profession

career

noun
ca·​reer | \ kə-ˈrir \

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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on career

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with career

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for career

Spanish Central: Translation of career

Nglish: Translation of career for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of career for Arabic Speakers

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