9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[eer-mahrk] /ˈɪərˌmɑrk/
any identifying or distinguishing mark or characteristic:
The mayor's statement had all the earmarks of dirty politics.
a mark of identification made on the ear of an animal to show ownership.
a provision in a piece of Congressional legislation that directs specified federal funds to specific projects, programs, organizations, or individuals:
Lawmakers requested almost 40,000 earmarks worth more than $100 billion directed to their home districts and states.
Compare pork barrel.
verb (used with object)
to set aside for a specific purpose, use, recipient, etc.:
to earmark goods for export.
to mark with an earmark.
Origin of earmark
1515-25; ear1 + mark1
Related forms
unearmarked, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for earmarked
  • Smothering effectively kills weeds in areas earmarked for future planting.
  • All income from an endowment is earmarked for support of educational programs in the state for which it was created.
  • On the flip side, no revenue could possibly be earmarked for an agreeable cause.
  • Food stamps are considered highly effective government spending, but they're earmarked for food.
  • But in the end, no money was earmarked for molecular manufacturing.
  • The money is earmarked for bringing more guest writers on board, as well as scholarships for disadvantaged students.
  • The money earmarked for the installation was commandeered when basic construction costs for the arena exceeded the budget.
  • The resulting popular mandate shifts some of the billions once earmarked for defense toward revitalizing education.
  • To qualify for matching contributions, savings must be earmarked for homeownership, higher education or business expansion.
  • Not everyone is willing to risk such setbacks, especially if the savings in question are earmarked for retirement or education.
British Dictionary definitions for earmarked


verb (transitive)
to set aside or mark out for a specific purpose
to make an identification mark on the ear of (a domestic animal)
a mark of identification on the ear of a domestic animal
any distinguishing mark or characteristic
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for earmarked



late 15c., from ear (n.1) + mark (n.1). Originally a cut or mark in the ear of sheep and cattle, serving as a sign of ownership (also a punishment of certain criminals); first recorded 1570s in figurative sense "stamp of ownership."


1590s, "to identify by an earmark," from earmark (n.). Meaning "to set aside money for a special purpose" is attested by 1868. Related: Earmarked; earmarking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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