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


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

Flip the Script costs $3,450 per participant, through a budget earmark. Angie Jackson, Detroit Free Press, "Flip the Script program for ex-offenders fights proposed Whitmer budget cut," 9 July 2019 Pittman's bill proposes removing a relatively small portion of the statutory earmarks and placing that money in the General Fund. Carol Robinson, AL.com, "Body believed to be 68-year-old missing man found in vehicle on Birmingham car repair shop lot," 24 Jan. 2018 DeBonis broke the news that Trump threatened a veto of this year's omnibus in an attempt to force House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) to eliminate an earmark for the tunnel project. Martine Powers, Washington Post, "Trump is quietly shifting how major infrastructure projects are funded," 7 Apr. 2018 The House Rules Committee will convene hearings this month on earmarks, House aides said. Josh Dawsey, Washington Post, "Trump cools to idea of taking on welfare programs, seeing little chance of success in Congress," 5 Jan. 2018 At the very least, the earmark could provide Rail Link supporters with more political leverage in their quest. Jon Chesto, BostonGlobe.com, "North South Rail Link scores a Beacon Hill win," 7 June 2018 But that's not happening in 2018 and 2019 has all the earmarks of a full-on rebuild season. Stefan Stevenson, star-telegram, "Astros hold on against Rangers but Shin-Soo Choo stretches on-base streak to 43 games," 3 July 2018 But Allen says those grants have dried up in the past five years as Johnson County redirected those earmarks to building a handful of moderate-income home-ownership properties. Lynn Horsley, kansascity, "JoCo agency gave low-income residents a lifeline. Now it's shutting down," 1 July 2018 The on-again, off-again summit meeting scheduling had all the earmarks of a television cliffhanger from a president who made a name for himself hosting a reality show on NBC for 14 years, only this time there were deadly serious consequences. Peter Baker, New York Times, "Trump Announces Summit Meeting With Kim Jong-un Is Back on," 1 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Once the summer heat subsides, winemaker Flores earmarks about 200 casks that will potentially be used for the en rama wines. Shana Clarke, Fortune, "A New Style of Winemaking Could Take Sherry Mainstream," 29 June 2019 Monthly landline and mobile phone bills will increase slightly Jan. 1, and the budget earmarks that money for improvements to 911 emergency communications across the state. San Diego Union-Tribune, "California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed his first budget. Here’s where the $215 billion will go," 27 June 2019 BoKlok would build roughly 160 houses on land leased from the local council, with 30% of units earmarked for public housing, according to a plan posted online. Julia Horowitz, CNN, "Ikea wants to build homes in Britain that cost what the buyer can pay," 26 June 2019 The property had not been the subject of work for some years and had already been earmarked for renovation,’’ said Michael Stevens, keeper of the Privy Purse, who is responsible for monarchy accounts. Danica Kirka, BostonGlobe.com, "Prince Harry, Meghan’s home renovations cost taxpayers $3m," 25 June 2019 Sanders' plan would earmark $48 billion to pay for free tuition at state colleges and universities. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, "Bernie Sanders wants to erase $1.6 trillion in student debt by taxing Wall Street," 24 June 2019 With a host of changes expected to take place at the Emirates Stadium, despite the shoe-string budget, the club have also earmarked CSKA Moscow striker Fedor Chalov, according to Sky Sports. SI.com, "Yannick Carrasco Reveals Offer From European Club Is 'on the Table' Amid Arsenal Interest," 6 June 2019 The largest portion of the package earmarks $1.5 billion for the rebuilding of Tyndall Air Force Base, which was essentially destroyed by Hurricane Michael this past October. orlandosentinel.com, "Florida to get a big chunk of federal dollars for hurricane relief. Here’s how it breaks down," 4 June 2019 Durkan’s proposal earmarks $250,000 for a new overnight parking lot program for people living in cars and recreational vehicles. Vernal Coleman, The Seattle Times, "Durkan adds shelter, homeless outreach and support for vehicle campers in Seattle budget," 24 Sep. 2018

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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Statistics for earmark

Last Updated

18 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for earmark

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

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More Definitions for earmark



Financial Definition of earmark

What It Is

Earmarking refers to the act of setting aside funds for special purposes or specific projects. Companies and governments earmark funds frequently.

How It Works

For example, let's assume Company XYZ issues $100 million of bonds and that $20 million of it is earmarked for the construction of a new factory. This means that Company XYZ intends to set aside $20 million of the proceeds (perhaps even in a separate bank account) for the factory capital expenditures.

In a bankruptcy situation, the "earmarking doctrine" allows borrowers -- just before filing for bankruptcy -- to make payments to creditors with funds given to the borrower by another creditor. These funds are earmarked in that they are dedicated to paying off a particular creditor and thus aren't technically part of the borrower's property. The earmarking doctrine requires these types of transfers to have a written agreement from all three parties, and the borrower cannot have control over the funds.

Why It Matters

In the corporate world, earmarking is essentially a way of organizing and allocating money.

In government, however, earmarking also comes with a good deal of controversy because the earmark language is often embedded in unrelated legislation and approved or rejected for reasons other than the merits (or lack thereof) of the earmarks.

[InvestingAnswers Feature: The Most Absurd Pork Barrel Spending Projects of 2010]

Source: Investing Answers



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with earmark

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for earmark

Spanish Central: Translation of earmark

Nglish: Translation of earmark for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about earmark

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