hall·​mark | \ˈhȯl-ˌmärk \

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

emblem, ensign, impresa, logo, symbol, totem, trademark

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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


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

Enjoy the special and delicious foods and festive meals that are the hallmark of the holiday season. Abby Langer, SELF, "4 Holiday Season Nutrition Myths You Should Ignore," 23 Nov. 2018 Selling government properties was also a hallmark of the technical government of Mario Monti, which had forecast in 2011 raising as much as 30 billion euros by 2020 with the sale of government properties. Colleen Barry, The Seattle Times, "Italy’s doesn’t budge in clash with EU over budget deficit," 13 Nov. 2018 Inspiration has always been the hallmark of young-adult literature, which traditionally consists of reassuring texts infused with values espoused by most of mainstream society. Steve Salerno, WSJ, "The Unbearable Darkness of Young Adult Literature," 28 Aug. 2018 Access to contraception — which used to be the hallmark of the Republican Party — is critical to people’s autonomy, well-being, and the health of whole families and communities. Dawn Huckelbridge, Teen Vogue, "Trump's Supreme Court Nominee Threatens Contraception Access, Too," 17 July 2018 An earlier Wall Street Journal analysis published in May showed hundreds of such offerings bear the hallmarks of fraud or other red flags. Ryan Vlastelica, WSJ, "Test Your Smarts on…Market Manias," 7 Oct. 2018 The attack bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State group, which has carried out a wave of bombings against minority Shiites in recent years. Amir Shah, Fox News, "Attacks kill 19 Afghan forces after twin bombings in Kabul," 6 Sep. 2018 This pass-and-dash action became a hallmark three years ago during the Western Conference semifinals against Memphis, with Iguodala and Draymond Green shoveling to Curry while screening for him. Lee Jenkins, SI.com, "Kevin Durant and the Dagger That Foreshadowed the Broom," 12 June 2018 If cancer cells modify SRC-3, for example by adding a phosphate chemical group to it, then SRC-3 becomes hyperactive, a hallmark of many tumors. Staff Report, Houston Chronicle, "Answers to 100-year-old mystery point to potential breast cancer therapies," 9 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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


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


see hallmark entry 1

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Dictionary Entries near hallmark





hall monitor



Statistics for hallmark

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for hallmark

The first known use of hallmark was in 1721

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More Definitions for hallmark



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

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


living or existing for a long time

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