hall·​mark | \ ˈhȯl-ˌmärk How to pronounce hallmark (audio) \

Definition of hallmark

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an official mark stamped on gold and silver articles in England to attest their purity
b : a mark or device placed or stamped on an article of trade to indicate origin, purity, or genuineness a hallmark from the Ming dynasty
2 : a distinguishing characteristic, trait, or feature the dramatic flourishes which are the hallmark of the trial lawyer— Marion K. Sanders


hallmarked; hallmarking; hallmarks

Definition of hallmark (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to stamp with a mark that indicates origin, purity, or genuineness : to stamp with a hallmark (see hallmark entry 1)

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Synonyms for hallmark

Synonyms: Noun

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The Golden History of Hallmark


Centuries ago, King Edward I of England decreed that gold and silver had to be tested and approved by master craftsmen before being sold. Later, London artisans were required to bring finished metal goods to Goldsmith's Hall to be checked, and if those items met the quality standards of the craft-masters there, they would be marked with a special stamp of approval. (The process is much the same today.) At first, people used hallmark to name that mark of excellence from Goldsmith's Hall, but over the years the word came to refer to any mark guaranteeing purity or genuineness, and eventually to name any sign of outstanding talent, creativity, or excellence.

Examples of hallmark in a Sentence

Noun He had all the hallmarks of a great baseball player. Humor is one of the hallmarks of her style. The murder bore all the hallmarks of a serial killer's work.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Excellent three-point defense The hallmark of a good Chris Beard team is a swarming defense. Brice Paterik, Dallas News, "Poor shooting night sinks No. 22 Texas Tech on the road in 66-54 loss to No. 17 West Virginia," 11 Jan. 2020 Yet the change-the-world idealism, once a hallmark of the internet giants, is alive and well. Erin Griffith, New York Times, "With Big Tech in Their Path, Start-Ups Turn to Business Markets," 22 Nov. 2019 Vuong’s willingness to solve the equation of his own existence, no matter its components, is a hallmark of this poignant and lyrical work of self-discovery. Sarah K. Benning, Washington Post, "Best Books of 2019," 21 Nov. 2019 Whooping cough is a highly contagious — and preventable – respiratory illness, a hallmark of which is a severe cough that leaves a person gasping for air. Mayo Clinic News Network, chicagotribune.com, "Why moms-to-be need vaccines during pregnancy," 8 Nov. 2019 One hallmark of an intelligent animal is the development of multilevel societies, full of complex relationships. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "These Beautiful Blue Turkey-Like Birds Have Tiny Brains and Huge Social Networks," 6 Nov. 2019 Overall, the Nuggets are scoring around seven points fewer per game and their assists, a hallmark of last year’s offense, are down six per game. Mike Singer, The Denver Post, "The Nuggets are 4-2, but their offense has been underwhelming. Here’s the problem.," 5 Nov. 2019 This brand of sly, subversive humor has become a hallmark of the Hong Kong protests. Jiayang Fan, The New Yorker, "Hong Kong’s Protest Movement and the Fight for the City’s Soul," 9 Dec. 2019 Hong Kong’s leader has said the ban on masks, which have become a hallmark of the protests, is aimed at deterring radical behavior. Fox News, "Hong Kong demonstrators parody Xi Jinping, LeBron James to protest government ban on masks," 19 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Holidays, inasmuch as they are illustrated by their ornaments and decorations, are also hallmarked by their customary foods, which spangle around festive table centerpieces as the true spectacle of the occasions. Myles Poydras, The Atlantic, "The History Behind One of America’s Most Beloved Desserts," 5 Jan. 2020 Byrne recalled her brother’s sense of humor, hallmarked an uncanny ability to impersonate anyone. Michael Brice-saddler, Washington Post, "Among the Texas shooting victims: A high-school student, a beloved uncle and a father of two," 1 Sep. 2019 Opponents said the bill would have eroded Hong Kong’s hallmark judicial independence and exposed its residents to politicized cases. Washington Post, "Hong Kong protests move forward despite police objections," 11 Aug. 2019 Despite a season hallmarked by miscommunication between the player’s camp and the Spurs, Leonard and Popovich maintained a solid — albeit often long-distance — relationship. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "Where will Kawhi play next season, and other burning Spurs questions?," 28 Apr. 2018 The inside linebacker blitzes that have long hallmarked Pittsburgh’s scheme also remain. Andy Benoit, SI.com, "The Pittsburgh Steelers Might Have the Best Defense in the AFC," 20 Sep. 2017 The driving idea behind the projects has been to embed the cooperative multiplayer experience within the company’s hallmark open-world games. Gieson Cacho, The Mercury News, "Review: ‘Ghost Recon: Wildlands’ — flawed but deep open-world shooter," 7 Mar. 2017

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


1721, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1773, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hallmark

Noun and Verb

Goldsmiths' Hall, London, England, where gold and silver articles were assayed and stamped

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Time Traveler for hallmark

Time Traveler

The first known use of hallmark was in 1721

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Statistics for hallmark

Last Updated

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hallmark.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hallmark. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for hallmark


How to pronounce hallmark (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of hallmark

: a quality, ability, etc., that is typical of a particular person or thing
: an official mark that is put on gold and silver objects in Britain to indicate their purity

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Comments on hallmark

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