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)

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for hallmark

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Speed of response to the unexpected was a hallmark of German military leadership. Max Hastings, The New York Review of Books, "Botch on the Rhine," 13 May 2020 Agility is a hallmark of our theater business, and our ability to service our partnerships with exhibition. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, "Imax Swings to Quarterly Loss Amid Movie Theater Closures," 30 Apr. 2020 Unicornus Knights 1-6 players, 60-90 minutes, ages 12+, $42 on Amazon Escort missions are a hallmark of terrible video game design. Aaron Zimmerman, Dan Thurot, Ars Technica, "The best board games to play with your quarantined housemates," 26 Apr. 2020 The large private parties that were a hallmark of the place are not allowed for now, and the restaurant isn’t well known for takeout. Los Angeles Times, "Surviving the Shutdown: Brodard Restaurant keeps feeding Little Saigon," 23 Apr. 2020 That rule had traditionally served as the main bulwark of consumer protection against the outrageous business practices that are a hallmark of the funeral industry’s more predatory firms. Daniel Boguslaw, The New Republic, "Death Industry Predators Eye the Spoils of a Pandemic," 2 Apr. 2020 Willful ignorance has been a hallmark of politics recently, and that's unfortunate. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "The case for trusting the media in the time of coronavirus," 14 Mar. 2020 Southwest Airlines Not charging fees to change or cancel reservations is a hallmark of Southwest Airlines’ business model. Dan Catchpole, Fortune, "Coronavirus is upending air travel. Here’s how to navigate flight cancellations, changes during the outbreak," 5 Mar. 2020 Solid hiring has been a hallmark of the economic recovery of the past decade. Sarah Chaney, WSJ, "U.S. Economy Added 225,000 Jobs in January," 7 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In normal circumstances, the teenage experience is hallmarked by big emotions. Jennifer Folsom, NBC News, "Coronavirus is canceling senior year across America: 5 ways to help your child cope," 2 Apr. 2020 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about hallmark

Time Traveler for hallmark

Time Traveler

The first known use of hallmark was in 1721

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about hallmark

Statistics for hallmark

Last Updated

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hallmark.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hallmark. Accessed 28 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Obscure Shapes

  • a pile of three dimensional shapes in green
  • Something that is ooid is shaped like:
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!