1 of 2


ear·​mark ˈir-ˌmärk How to pronounce earmark (audio)
: a mark of identification on the ear of an animal
: a distinguishing mark
all the earmarks of poverty
: a provision in Congressional legislation that allocates a specified amount of money for a specific project, program, or organization


2 of 2


earmarked; earmarking; earmarks

transitive verb

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

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
Yet another sought to eliminate earmarks from the funding bill. Jacob Bogage, Washington Post, 8 Mar. 2024 Porter said California is being shortchanged by the system, since its 39 million people get 2% of the earmarks—a percentage point for each senator. David Lightman, Sacramento Bee, 21 Feb. 2024 Missouri did not get any earmarks in the most recent spending bill because neither of its senators – Eric Schmitt and Josh Hawley – requested earmarks. Daniel Desrochers, Kansas City Star, 25 Mar. 2024 The first tranche of spending bills also includes more than $12.6 billion in earmarks, funding requested by lawmakers of both parties and set aside for projects in their districts or states – another point of frustration for some. USA TODAY, 8 Mar. 2024 But House members also get to designate earmarks, and California has 52 House members. David Lightman, Sacramento Bee, 21 Feb. 2024 Actually, California has the largest congressional delegation of any state, because earmarks happen in both chambers. Gillian Brassil, Sacramento Bee, 23 Jan. 2024 Porter focused her attacks on Schiff for using a congressional tool called earmarks and taking Big Oil PAC money. Andrew Sheeler, Sacramento Bee, 21 Feb. 2024 Notorious examples of wasteful spending led Congress to nix earmarks in 2011. Jacob Bogage, Washington Post, 29 Jan. 2024
Fans had earmarked the Europa League final in Dublin, Ireland, as Klopp’s potential last game in charge, but those plans now seem in jeopardy. Ben Church, CNN, 12 Apr. 2024 In addition to the $1 million each earmarked to support Householder and Husted, there was a $5 million donation to America First Policy, which backed former President Donald Trump's agenda. Jessie Balmert, The Enquirer, 10 Apr. 2024 Tokyo has earmarked a fund of more than 100 billion yen ($680 million) that includes compensation and other support, including measures to help find other export destinations. Mari Yamaguchi, Quartz, 13 Mar. 2024 She’s earmarked €1 billion ($1.1 billion) in incentives, which consist of tax breaks of up to €3,000 a year for mothers of two children that will in future be restricted to mothers of three or more. Alessandra Migliaccio, Fortune Europe, 11 Mar. 2024 The draft budget also earmarks about $114.8 million to begin construction on a new U.S.-Mexico border crossing. Emily Alvarenga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 Mar. 2024 Cupertino paid fees related to a recent housing lawsuit using more than $100,000 worth of funds earmarked for affordable housing, a mistake staffers are correcting, the city said. Stephanie Lam, The Mercury News, 28 Mar. 2024 Levelling Up became a pork-barrel exercise: of seven hundred and twenty-five million pounds earmarked in June, 2021, about eighty per cent was for Conservative constituencies. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, 25 Mar. 2024 Lawmakers earmarked nearly $2 billion in tax subsidies to build an MLB stadium and an NHL arena. Nicole Santa Cruz, ProPublica, 19 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'earmark.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near earmark

Cite this Entry

“Earmark.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/earmark. Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
ear·​mark ˈi(ə)r-ˌmärk How to pronounce earmark (audio)
: a mark of identification on the ear of an animal
: a mark or quality by which something can be identified
the earmarks of success


2 of 2 verb
: to mark with or as if with an earmark
: to set aside for a special purpose
money earmarked for a vacation

More from Merriam-Webster on earmark

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