career

noun
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

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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Taylor Heinicke, Carolina Panthers The third-year veteran out of Old Dominion has one start in his career. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Looking at backup quarterbacks Colts could acquire in coming days," 30 Aug. 2019 Just two other home runs in his career were hit farther. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros take down Blue Jays in series opener," 30 Aug. 2019 Among the new programming arriving on YouTube: a documentary launching Oct. 8 exploring the life and career of music icon Johnny Cash, and a 30-minute special timed to the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Brett Molina, USA TODAY, "YouTube to make future Originals programming free to watch," 29 Aug. 2019 His 10 goals this season are second-most on the Fire and the second-most in his career. Jeremy Mikula, chicagotribune.com, "Isolation and darkness in an enclosed space isn’t a nightmare. It’s flotation therapy, and Chicago Fire forward C.J. Sapong uses it to recover.," 29 Aug. 2019 He was criticized early in his career for laughing at his own jokes. Marcia Mannawriter, San Diego Union-Tribune, "In Mojalet Dance Collective’s ‘Red: Man, Rascal, Clown,’ Red Skelton’s spirit lives on," 29 Aug. 2019 Usually racing out of the blocks and suffocating opponents, Federer has lost the first set in his opening two rounds at a major for the first time ever in his career. Ravi Ubha, CNN, "One hundred matches and counting for Federer at the US Open -- but is there cause for concern for the Swiss?," 28 Aug. 2019 During the Putin era, this class has been left to immerse itself in private lives and careers, and incentivized to ignore politics. The Christian Science Monitor, "Encircling the interrupters with civility," 23 Aug. 2019 This man has ruined the lives and careers of many people. Cindy Boren, The Denver Post, "Olympic champion figure skating coach banned for life for sexual misconduct claims," 22 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Your personal salability and attractiveness also extend to career, so this is also a good time for job interviews or to make new business contacts. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive.com, "Horoscope for Aug. 26, 2019: Cancer, be a sudden ray of sunshine; Aquarius, focus on clear communication," 26 Aug. 2019 As touch-screen phones careered toward ubiquity, and as desktop interfaces and website design and mobile operating systems huddled together around a crude and adapting set of visual metaphors, the badge was ascendant. John Herrman, New York Times, "How Tiny Red Dots Took Over Your Life," 27 Feb. 2018 Her groundstrokes careered wide or carried repeatedly long. Kurt Streeter, New York Times, "Wimbledon 2019: Serena Williams Escapes; Angelique Kerber Doesn’t," 4 July 2019 In a Facebook post shared the day after the crash, Smith wrote that her car started hydroplaning before careering off the road between two trees and flipping three times. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "A teenager didn’t come home. An iPhone app led her mother to a ravine.," 17 June 2019 The ball careered into the hand of Liverpool defender Ragnar Klavan. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Champions League: Liverpool Ousts Roma in Loss That Doubles as a Triumph," 2 May 2018 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

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.

See More

First Known Use of career

Noun

circa 1534, in the meaning defined at sense 3a

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about career

Listen to Our Podcast about career

Statistics for career

Last Updated

2 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for career

The first known use of career was circa 1534

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

recurring in steady succession

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!