ca·reer | \ kə-ˈrir \

Definition of career 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : speed in a course ran at full career

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


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


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?


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


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.


she careered off to the class she'd almost forgotten
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Azar, who once clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, has spent a large chunk of his career in the healthcare industry. Bradford Betz, Fox News, "HHS departures signal new secretary's 'no-nonsense' approach: report," 14 July 2018 My own career in law and politics owes so much to the U.S., which gave me the honor of becoming the first black Briton to study at Harvard Law School. David Lammy, Time, "I'm a British Lawmaker. Here's Why I’m Protesting Trump’s Visit to the U.K.," 10 July 2018 Former Post-Tribune photographer Charles Mitchell began his career shooting photos of Buster, who was 16 years younger. Johnny Gorches, Post-Tribune, "'I'm so lucky and blessed': Portage's Buster Battreall gives up basketball, becomes nationally known with Ford Models," 14 July 2018 Aurora Christian comes into the 2018 season having to replace graduated Drew Clippert, who has moved on to Brown of the Ivy League after throwing for 7,881 yards in his three-year career as a starter. Rick Armstrong, Aurora Beacon-News, "Air apparent: Aurora Christian coaches grooming sophomore Ethan Hampton to power passing attack," 14 July 2018 Walker, who makes $12 million next season, will become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his seven-season NBA career. Rick Bonnell, charlotteobserver, "Why All-Star Kemba Walker’s New York ties should worry Charlotte Hornets," 13 July 2018 Ever rarer are those who would place emphasis on women to prioritize their careers. Emily Cassidy /, NBC News, "In the Know: Women in the news 7/9-7/13," 13 July 2018 Hunter, unbeknown to the public, which saw him paired on and off screen with female movie stars, was actually a gay man who was unable to be open about his sexuality and was constantly under the threat of having his career destroyed because of it. Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Awards Chatter' Podcast — Remembering Tab Hunter," 11 July 2018 Meanwhile, 24-year-old Vietto has had an impressive career to date, despite no longer being in Diego Simeone's plans., "Report Claims Two Players Will Move to Sporting CP in Atlético Madrid's Deal for Gelson Martins," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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,, "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). Staff,, "2017 fall college academic all-area teams," 31 May 2018 And there’s nothing funny about what comedy can do to career longevity. Gary Thompson,, "Candice Bergen was pretty psyched to get expelled from Penn," 11 May 2018 Napoli then had their first chance of the match, as Callejón careered an effort wide from the edge of the area after Rodríguez was caught napping., "AC Milan 0-0 Napoli: Rossoneri Survive Gli Azzurri Onslaught to Effectively End Serie A Title Race," 15 Apr. 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


circa 1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


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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Phrases Related to career

career criminal

career move

Statistics for career

Last Updated

16 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for career

The first known use of career was circa 1534

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More Definitions for career



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


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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Comments on career

What made you want to look up career? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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