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Mid 16th century, from French carrière (road; racecourse), from Italian carriera, from Old Occitan carreira, from Late Latin carrāria based on Latin carrus (wheeled vehicle), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *ḱr̥sós, from *ḱers- (to run); alternatively, from Middle French carriere, from Old Occitan.



career (plural careers)

  1. One's calling in life; a person's occupation; one's profession.
    • 1971, “Working Class Hero”, in John Lennon (lyrics), John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band, performed by John Lennon:
      When they've tortured and scared you for twenty-odd years / Then they expect you to pick a career
    • 2002, Priscilla K. Shontz, Steven J. Oberg, Jump Start Your Career in Library and Information Science, page 21:
      As I explored the possibility of a library science path, having previously been employed in libraries during my school career and afterwards, I decided that I needed to actually experience work in a library setting full time again []
    • 2012 January, Douglas Larson, “Runaway Devils Lake”, in American Scientist[1], volume 100, number 1, archived from the original on 23 May 2012, page 46:
      Devils Lake is where I began my career as a limnologist in 1964, studying the lake’s neotenic salamanders and chironomids, or midge flies. […] The Devils Lake Basin is an endorheic, or closed, basin covering about 9,800 square kilometers in northeastern North Dakota.
  2. General course of action or conduct in life, or in a particular part of it.
    Washington's career as a soldier
  3. (archaic) Speed.
  4. A jouster's path during a joust.
    • 1820, Walter Scott, Ivanhoe; a Romance. [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to III), Edinburgh: [] Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co. [], →OCLC:
      These knights, therefore, their aim being thus eluded, rushed from opposite sides betwixt the object of their attack and the Templar, almost running their horses against each other ere they could stop their career.
  5. (obsolete) A short gallop of a horse. [16th–18th c.]
    • 1603, Michel de Montaigne, chapter 48, in John Florio, transl., The Essayes [], book I, London: [] Val[entine] Simmes for Edward Blount [], →OCLC:
      It is said of Cæsar [] that in his youth being mounted upon a horse, and without any bridle, he made him run a full cariere [tr. carriere], make a sodaine stop, and with his hands behind his backe performe what ever can be expected of an excellent ready horse.
    • 1756, William Guthrie (translator), Of Eloquence (originally by Quintillian)
      Such littleness damps the heat, and weakens the force of genius; as we check a horse in his career, and rein him in when we want him to amble
  6. (falconry) The flight of a hawk.
  7. (obsolete) A racecourse; the ground run over.

Derived terms[edit]



career (third-person singular simple present careers, present participle careering, simple past and past participle careered)

  1. To move rapidly straight ahead, especially in an uncontrolled way.
    Synonym: careen
    The car careered down the road, missed the curve, and went through a hedge.
    • 2003 October 16, Emma Brockes, quoting DBC Pierre, “How did I get here?”, in The Guardian[2]:
      He likens the story of his 20s to "a fully fuelled jumbo jet just reaching take-off point and having to slam on the brakes. You've got this enormous bloody thing careering off the end of the runway, through the fence, through the house next door, bursting into flames and me crawling out and scraping my wounds for 10 years. I won't be flying that one again."
    • 2011 September 16, Ben Dirs, “Rugby World Cup 2011: New Zealand 83-7 Japan”, in BBC Sport[3]:
      However, the hosts hit back and hit back hard, first replacement hooker Andrew Hore sliding over, then Williams careering out of his own half and leaving several defenders for dead before flipping the ball to Nonu to finish off a scintillating move.
    • 2021 February 24, Greg Morse, “Great Heck: a tragic chain of events”, in RAIL, number 925, page 39:
      This secondary collision, head-on with a closing speed of 142mph, caused the DVT to veer off to the left. Many of the coaches behind it overturned and careered into an adjacent field.



career (not comparable)

  1. Synonym of serial (doing something repeatedly or regularly as part of one's lifestyle or career)
    a career criminal
    • 2012, Arthur Gillard, Homelessness, page 38:
      Studies on homeless income find that the typical “career panhandler” who dedicates his time overwhelmingly to begging can make between $600 and $1,500 a month.

Further reading[edit]

  • "career" in Raymond Williams, Keywords (revised), 1983, Fontana Press, page 52.



From English career.


career (plural careers)

  1. career