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 The death of earmarks that, for so many years, fueled projects on the home front. Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times, "Why Are These Democrats Too Good for the Senate?," 16 Aug. 2019 After these earmarks, 7,500 resettlement slots remain for the rest of the world’s 26 million refugees. Barbara Strack, Time, "I Oversaw DHS Refugee Affairs. Here Are 3 Ways the Trump Administration Is Trying to Mislead You," 8 Oct. 2019 Prison spending in the state’s new fiscal year will total some $15.7 billion — a $2.6-billion increase in the last four years and only slightly lower, by percentage, than what the budget earmarks for colleges and universities. John Myers, latimes.com, "California ends its long, costly shift of prisoners to other states," 30 June 2019 Instead, lawmakers renewed billions in new farm subsidies for wealthy farmers and considered bringing back pork-barrel earmarks. Brian Riedl, National Review, "New Budget Deal Puts Final Nail in the Tea Party Coffin," 22 July 2019 Ping An earmarks 1% of revenue for investments in innovation. Fortune, "China’s Biggest Private Sector Company Is Betting Its Future on Data," 22 July 2019 The new majority quickly banned pork-barrel earmarks and trimmed the 2011 appropriations bills that had been carried over from the previous year. Brian Riedl, National Review, "New Budget Deal Puts Final Nail in the Tea Party Coffin," 22 July 2019 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In 2012 Colorado approved the recreational use of marijuana for adults, with a tax earmarking some funds for education. Stell Simonton, The Denver Post, "Denver turned marijuana into money for after-school programs. Other cities are taking note.," 29 Nov. 2019 For weeks, trustees have debated just how much money, if any, to earmark in the budget for the housing center. Steve Schering, chicagotribune.com, "Village board agrees to $300k funding level for Oak Park Regional Housing Center," 26 Nov. 2019 Given those figures, the $4.5 billion that Google, Apple and Facebook have earmarked would create about 10,000 housing units. Conor Dougherty, New York Times, "Why $4.5 Billion From Big Tech Won’t End California Housing Crisis," 6 Nov. 2019 Church leaders said most of the donations were sent to Emanuel with no restrictions, while donors had earmarked $280,000 for the families, The Post and Courier reported in 2016. Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, "The Charleston church targeted by a white supremacist is the subject of a state investigation," 5 Nov. 2019 The revenue is public money, earmarked to help repay the taxpayer dollars spent to build the $46 million stadium known as Toyota Field. Paul Gattis | Pgattis@al.com, al, "Madison won’t reveal public money from Trash Pandas stadium naming rights," 17 Oct. 2019 According to The Guardian, Allegri is keen on taking charge at Old Trafford should the position become vacant and has earmarked the club as a possible future employer. SI.com, "Massimiliano Allegri Learning English as Former Juventus Manager Eyes Man Utd Job," 2 Oct. 2019 But the fundamentals of prayer also must be taught, and schools are earmarking time for that, too. Ben Harris, sun-sentinel.com, "How Jewish day schools are reimagining daily prayer," 25 Sep. 2019 The Northern California public lands earmarked are in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Merced, Monterey, San Benito, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Stanislaus. Marcela Davison Aviles, The Mercury News, "Opinion: Oil drilling in the Bay Area? Trump administration can’t be serious," 5 Sep. 2019

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

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Earmark.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/earmarking. Accessed 9 December 2019.

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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


How to pronounce earmark (audio)

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with earmark

Spanish Central: Translation of earmark

Nglish: Translation of earmark for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about earmark

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