ear·​mark | \ ˈir-ˌmärk How to pronounce earmark (audio) \

Definition of earmark

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a mark of identification on the ear of an animal
2 : a distinguishing mark all the earmarks of poverty
3 : a provision in Congressional legislation that allocates a specified amount of money for a specific project, program, or organization


earmarked; earmarking; earmarks

Definition of earmark (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to mark (livestock) with an earmark
b : to mark in a distinguishing manner
2 : to designate (something, such as funds) for a specific use or owner money earmarked for education

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Examples of earmark in a Sentence

Verb The project uses funds that had been earmarked for education. the earnings from my second job have been earmarked for a down payment on a car
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Barring Republicans from participating in the new and improved earmark system comes with political risks. Emily Brooks, Washington Examiner, "Senate GOP says 'No' to pork, upholds earmark ban," 21 Apr. 2021 In an attempt to avoid the controversies of the past, which included two lawmakers going to prison, Congress is trying to make the earmark process more transparent. Matt Canham, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Earmarks split Utah’s lawmakers, with Mike Lee and Mitt Romney vowing to seek none," 19 Apr. 2021 DeLauro has limited the overall pot of earmark money to 1 percent of the total federal agency budgets that her committee controls - which would have been $14 billion out of the more than $1.4 trillion in the 2021 fiscal year. Paul Kane, Anchorage Daily News, "After a decade, congressional earmarks are back - with some strings attached," 13 Mar. 2021 Since many projects aren’t necessarily ready to go or fully funded, earmark money tends to sit unused, Mr. Davis said. Lindsay Wise, WSJ, "Democrats Embrace Earmarks Again as Bridge to Skeptical Republicans," 13 Mar. 2021 Lawmakers can begin making their earmark requests starting Thursday with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which is working on a roads and transit bill. Kevin Freking, ajc, "Dems aim for July vote as Congress digs in on infrastructure," 31 Mar. 2021 Throughout the earmark craze, top think tanks would expose the most egregious earmarks within hours of a bill’s release. Brian Riedl, National Review, "Dear Congress: Bringing Back Pork Would Be a Disaster," 2 Mar. 2021 In line with the rules established by Democrats, the policy change approved by Republicans specifies that no member shall ask for an earmark unless it is publicly disclosed when it is made. Kevin Freking, Star Tribune, "House Republicans opt to restore earmarks after lengthy ban," 17 Mar. 2021 An infamous example was a $223 million earmark in 2005 to link a small city in Alaska to an airport on a nearby island, population 50. Lindsay Wise, WSJ, "Democrats Embrace Earmarks Again as Bridge to Skeptical Republicans," 13 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The school budgets also earmark $30 million for special education programs and $16 million for preschool expansion, along with $17 million to hire another 78 nurses, 44 social workers and 51 special education case managers. Hannah Leone, chicagotribune.com, "CPS plans for daily in-person classes, a remote learning option and bigger school budgets next fall," 21 Apr. 2021 The conference doesn’t earmark the money to be used for certain applications, like only putting it toward basketball, for instance, so schools can spend their share on anything from scholarships, facilities, coaches’ salaries or tutors for athletes. Los Angeles Times, "How NCAA units turn the Pac-12’s March Madness wins into big paydays," 3 Apr. 2021 The problem, housing advocates said, was that the federal government didn’t specifically earmark any of the coronavirus aid for rental relief, leaving states scrambling to set up programs with no guidance on how the money should be allocated. Michael Casey, The Christian Science Monitor, "Tenants filed. The money is ready. But rent relief hasn't come.," 31 Mar. 2021 Supervisor Nathan Fletcher says the county will set aside 20 percent of its vaccine supply for this program — twice the amount the state plans to earmark for educators. Jonathan Wosen, San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego to offer COVID-19 vaccines to police, teachers, farm workers and others starting Saturday," 24 Feb. 2021 This framing provides ongoing visibility and support from a wider breadth of cross-functional leaders and the ability to earmark funding. Jason Heller, Forbes, "Marketing And CX Transformation: How Customer Centricity Creates Value," 10 Mar. 2021 There are no plans right now to earmark state funding for colleges and universities for COVID-19 related impacts, Poole said. Ed Enoch, al, "Struggling Alabama colleges hope for more state funding for COVID recovery," 8 Mar. 2021 Kelly said the council should wait to earmark funding until May, June and July, when the city will have a better picture of what events are occurring. Suzanne Baker, chicagotribune.com, "Century Walk, Irish Fest awarded more money from food and beverage tax," 4 Mar. 2021 During the height of earmarks, some lawmakers were forced to devote upwards to 10,000 staff-hours annually to earmark reviews. Brian Riedl, National Review, "Dear Congress: Bringing Back Pork Would Be a Disaster," 2 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'earmark.' 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 earmark


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for earmark

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The first known use of earmark was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

27 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Earmark.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/earmark. Accessed 8 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for earmark



English Language Learners Definition of earmark

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a mark or quality that shows what something is or what it could be



English Language Learners Definition of earmark (Entry 2 of 2)

: to say that something will be used or treated in a specified way
: to put (money) aside for a special purpose

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More from Merriam-Webster on earmark

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for earmark

Nglish: Translation of earmark for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about earmark

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