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

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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

From her infamous meat dress to donning outfits made out of muppets, the singer has been defined by her campy, over-the-top fashion since the start of her career. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Lady Gaga Just Had 4 Outfit Changes on the Met Gala Red Carpet and We’re Deceased," 6 May 2019 Over the course of her career, Theron has starred in a range of films from Monster (2003) to Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) to Atomic Blonde (2017) to Snow White and the Huntsman (2012). Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "Charlize Theron Had Doubts About Playing a Serial Killer in 'Monster'," 1 May 2019 Mitchell was a Chicago-born (in 1925) abstract expressionist who spent much of her career living and working in France before her death in 1992. Vanessa Lawrence, ELLE Decor, "Joan Mitchell's Landscape Paintings Are the Perfect Digital Antidote," 1 May 2019 Her personal life is just as hectic: Her husband, Dwyane Wade, just played his last NBA game with the Miami Heat and is facing a new phase of his career. Ramou Sarr, Glamour, "Gabrielle Union Is ‘Not Here to Serve Hollywood’," 30 Apr. 2019 Country star Chris Stapleton has spent most of his career behind the scenes. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "Chris Stapleton and His Wife Morgane Are Unrecognizable in This Photo," 27 Apr. 2019 Most of the photos Mendes posts of herself on Instagram have been taken by professional photographers within the context of her career; a selfie taken in her everyday life is a rarity. Marci Robin, Allure, "Eva Mendes Posted a Makeup-Free Selfie, Even Though She Hates Selfies," 21 Apr. 2019 Investing in real estate seemed to be Martin's fallback plan, but eventually The Armageddon Rag was optioned as a screenplay—thus opening the door for the author to enter Hollywood and continue his path on a career filled with greatness. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "Game of Thrones Author George R.R. Martin Almost Quit Writing For a Job in Real Estate," 18 Apr. 2019 Kate Moss famously began her career at 14, and the frenzy over Kaia Gerber’s sweet-16 runway debut at Calvin Klein’s Spring 2018 show is still fresh in fashion’s collective memory. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "In Europe, the Model Age Debate Rages On," 12 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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 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

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Statistics for career

Last Updated

13 May 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 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.

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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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