trade·mark | \ˈtrād-ˌmärk \

Definition of trademark 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a device (such as a word) pointing distinctly to the origin or ownership of merchandise to which it is applied and legally reserved to the exclusive use of the owner as maker or seller

2 : a distinguishing characteristic or feature firmly associated with a person or thing wearing his trademark bow tie and derby hat


trademarked; trademarking; trademarks

Definition of trademark (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to secure trademark rights for : register the trademark of

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Synonyms for trademark

Synonyms: Noun

emblem, ensign, hallmark, logo, symbol, totem

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Examples of trademark in a Sentence


“Kleenex” is a registered trademark. Outspokenness has always been his trademark. Courtesy is the company's trademark.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In photographs of her celebrating in South Korea, her trademark pink highlights in her hair peeked out of a headband. Tegan Hanlon, Anchorage Daily News, "‘It’s been a roller coaster’: Olympic gold medalist Kikkan Randall diagnosed with breast cancer," 12 July 2018 That emphasis could raise questions about their ability to position Hilton for his trademark big plays. Stephen Holder, Indianapolis Star, "Colts' new offensive coordinator gets T.Y. Hilton crash course," 13 June 2018 The landmark hotel, with its trademark revolving rooftop restaurant, would not be demolished. Brittany Wallman,, "Developer envisions redevelopment at Pier 66," 5 June 2018 The model also showed off her stellar abs, and wore her trademark ripped jeans and dad sneakers: Hadid's appearance in New York follows a date in Paris with The Weeknd on May 31, 2018. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Bella Hadid Accidentally Shows Some Major Underboob While Out in New York," 3 June 2018 Still, some suggested her trademarks are moving more quickly than usual. Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, "Ivanka’s China Dealings Likely Just Regular Corruption, Not ZTE-Related," 29 May 2018 Ever the Twitter savvy celebrity, Blunt showed his trademark sense of humor with a response to a fan. Ashley Hoffman, Time, "The Internet Just Saw James Blunt's Face in a Crowded Place at the Royal Wedding," 19 May 2018 Wolfe himself dressed for company — his trademark a pale three-piece suit, impossibly high shirt collar, two-tone shoes and a silk tie. Hillel Italie,, "Tom Wolfe, pioneering ‘New Journalist,’ dies at 88," 15 May 2018 In a nice nod to the region, one of the two dessert options is traditional Smith Island cake, with its trademark of thin, multiple layers. Tim Smith,, "Festive drinks, fetching views give food a boost at 16 on the Park," 3 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Her image became so synonymous with the brand, Gerber trademarked the drawing of Cook in 1931. Michelle Gant, Fox News, "Original Gerber Baby meets newest Gerber Baby," 6 June 2018 Bad news for all the other up-and-coming Meryl Streeps in Hollywood: The 68-year-old future star of Big Little Lies has filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark her name, TMZ reports. Madeleine Aggeler, The Cut, "Meryl Streep Is Trademarking Her Name," 29 Jan. 2018 For Tam, the ability to trademark his band was about reclaiming a marginalized identity through reappropriation. Sonia K. Katyal,, "The sudden rush of vulgar trademarks," 23 June 2018 And jewelry company Le Vian trademarked a chocolate scent for its stores. Rachel Siegel,, "Hasbro trademarks Play-Doh scent," 24 May 2018 To my dismay no fewer than 90 new forms had been named, introduced, patented and/or trademarked — in just those six months! Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, "Gardeners can go from OK to superb with the help of these websites," 6 July 2018 The Jerusalem Post reported that the name change will have to be approved by the Israel Football Association and could be undone by trademark issues; Trump's name has been trademarked in Israel since 2008, according to the newspaper. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, "F.C. Beitar Jerusalem soccer team wants to add 'Trump' to its name," 14 May 2018 Westwood has her own plaid trademarked in the official Scottish registry, as does Burberry—and high-drama runway shows. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Riccardo Tisci Brings Vivienne Westwood to Burberry for a Collaboration," 6 July 2018 Companies, often in China, copy an item, sometimes using the item’s trademarked logo in their advertising, and then sell it online for far cheaper than the original item. Alana Semuels, The Atlantic, "Amazon May Have a Counterfeit Problem," 20 Apr. 2018

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


1839, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1881, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for trademark

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for trademark

The first known use of trademark was in 1839

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More Definitions for trademark



Financial Definition of trademark

What It Is

A trademark is any legally-protected abstract or figural representation or slogan associated with a company or product that deliberately differentiates it in the market.

How It Works

A trademark is a marketing device that visually sets a company or product apart from similar items trying to gain market share. Trademarks are forms of intellectual property that are unique to a company and or its products. Slogans, symbols, or inventive catchphrases are common examples of trademarks. Companies legally register their trademarks with the appropriate authorities in order to prevent competing companies from copying (called infringing upon) their trademark or trademarks (explicitly designated by the superscripted "TM"). Infringing on a registered trademark is illegal and may be used as justification for legal action by the company which legal rights to that trademark.

To illustrate, suppose company XYZ produces a cleaning solution for eye glasses called CrystalensTM (a clever contraction of the words "crystal" and "lens") for which they have a valid registered trademark. Should another company infringe upon this trademark by copying the name Crystalens verbatim or in part, then company XYZ is justified in suing the infringing party.

Why It Matters

In addition to differentiating companies and products in a given market, the use of trademarks is a marketing strategy that encourages recognition and association of some level of quality among consumers. Registered trademarks ensure fair, competitive practices in the market while protecting the owner of the intellectual property rights.

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English Language Learners Definition of trademark

: something (such as a word) that identifies a particular company's product and cannot be used by another company without permission

: a quality or way of behaving, speaking, etc., that is very typical of a particular person, group, or organization


trade·mark | \ˈtrād-ˌmärk \

Kids Definition of trademark

: a device (as a word) that points clearly to the origin or ownership of merchandise to which it is applied and that is legally reserved for use only by the owner

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trade·mark | \ˈtrād-ˌmärk \

Medical Definition of trademark 

: a device (as a word or mark) that points distinctly to the origin or ownership of merchandise to which it is applied and that is legally reserved for the exclusive use of the owner — compare service mark


trade·mark | \ˈtrād-ˌmärk \

Legal Definition of trademark 

: a mark that is used by a manufacturer or merchant to identify the origin or ownership of goods and to distinguish them from others and the use of which is protected by law — see also dilution, infringement, strong mark, weak mark, Trademark Act of 1946 — compare copyright, patent, service mark

Note: The Patent and Trademark Office registers trademarks and service marks that are used in interstate commerce or in intrastate commerce that affects interstate commerce. There are also state registration statutes for marks used in intrastate commerce. A trademark or service mark need not be registered for an owner to enforce his or her rights in court. The common law recognizes ownership of a trademark, established by actual and first use of the mark, but it extends only to the areas or markets where the mark is used. Federal registration of a trademark gives rise to a federal cause of action for infringement in addition to the common-law claim. Registration also serves as evidence of the owner's exclusive right to the continuous use and validity of the mark, and as constructive notice to the world of the claim to the mark. To be a valid trademark at common law and for federal registration, a mark must be distinctive; a descriptive mark may become distinctive by acquiring secondary meaning.

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