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

Keep scrolling for more

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 story has all the earmarks of a conspiracy theory. Los Angeles Times, "Was the coronavirus made in a Wuhan lab? Here’s what the genetic evidence shows," 9 May 2020 But even accounting for those earmarks, at $600m per quarter in net spending, Farragou thinks Tesla can operate for 15 months without further investment. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "How will Tesla weather the coronavirus storm? Quite nicely, analysts predict," 24 Mar. 2020 That would mean the funding that legislators had hoped to put toward the various programs and earmarks would instead go into the state’s emergency savings account. BostonGlobe.com, "For weeks, legislative leaders have been unable to reach a compromise to close the books on last fiscal year, leaving a relatively routine spending bill and a $1.1 billion surplus that it is built on to languish.," 1 Dec. 2019 Police on Saturday arrested more than a dozen of the city’s most prominent proponents of democracy on what has all the earmarks of orders from Beijing. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "China’s Hong Kong Roundup," 19 Apr. 2020 The 10 winners of that phase each got $20,000—with no stipulations or earmarks, just cold cash. Sarah Scoles, Wired, "The Search for the Next Big Idea in Magnetic Field Mapping," 31 Mar. 2020 The sector is lobbying for earmarks in the current federal rescue package. Adrian Ellis, WSJ, "Not a Pretty Picture," 24 Mar. 2020 Tesla responded by arguing that its earmarks for lease maintenance was in line with accounting standards. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Tesla skimps on warranty costs to inflate its profits, critics allege," 4 Mar. 2020 This story has the earmarks of a year-end effort to shore up a journalism awards entry. Alan Murray, Fortune, "Parsing the WeWork Debacle," 16 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Kachur notes too that most of the money the U.S. gives to the WHO comes from voluntary contributions, which donors can earmark to specific programs. Amy Mckeever, National Geographic, "Here's what we'll lose if the U.S. cuts ties with the WHO," 10 July 2020 Getting the homeless into vacant hotels has been a priority of the board, which unanimously passed emergency legislation in April to earmark 7,000 hotel rooms for the homeless. Dominic Fracassa, SFChronicle.com, "He’s been SF’s most powerful person in pandemic response. You don’t know his name.," 14 June 2020 Under their budget plan, the state would cut the $134 million that Newsom proposes to earmark for Calbright and use the money to avoid cuts to programs like food pantries for students, part-time faculty salaries and apprenticeship teaching. Dustin Gardiner, SFChronicle.com, "California’s online-only community college is flunking out with legislators," 9 June 2020 City Council voted to earmark the proceeds from the increase -- expected to be about $5 million annually -- for sidewalk and road repairs, as well as recreational improvements, including a new swimming pool at City Park. cleveland, "Mayfield Heights residents officially approve Issue 9 income tax increase," 20 May 2020 Effective immediately, state dollars earmarked for our district for our current fiscal year ending June 31 will be reduced by 14 percent, or $631,476. Linda Gandee, cleveland, "West side school systems respond to state education budget cuts," 17 May 2020 The institute had grants from the National Institutes of Health earmarked for other projects, and Krogan’s lab had received some funding in the past from the Swiss drug company Roche Pharma. Jason Fagone, San Francisco Chronicle, "Chasing a killer," 1 May 2020 Technology start-ups are debating whether to seek government loans earmarked for pandemic relief, my colleagues Erin Griffith and David McCabe report. Shira Ovide, New York Times, "No, the Best Doesn’t Win," 27 Apr. 2020 However, the chain has been under fire for accepting stimulus loans earmarked for struggling small businesses, not multimillion-dollar corporations. NBC News, "Facing furor, Ruth's Chris high-end steak chain returns $20M small-business loan," 23 Apr. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of earmark


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about earmark

Time Traveler for earmark

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for earmark

Cite this Entry

“Earmark.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/earmark. Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for earmark


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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on earmark

What made you want to look up earmark? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!