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earmark

[eer-mahrk] /ˈɪərˌmɑrk/
noun
1.
any identifying or distinguishing mark or characteristic:
The mayor's statement had all the earmarks of dirty politics.
2.
a mark of identification made on the ear of an animal to show ownership.
3.
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)
4.
to set aside for a specific purpose, use, recipient, etc.:
to earmark goods for export.
5.
to mark with an earmark.
Origin
1515-1525
1515-25; ear1 + mark1
Related forms
unearmarked, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for earmarks

earmark

/ˈɪəˌmɑːk/
verb (transitive)
1.
to set aside or mark out for a specific purpose
2.
to make an identification mark on the ear of (a domestic animal)
noun
3.
a mark of identification on the ear of a domestic animal
4.
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 earmarks

earmark

n.

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."

v.

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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