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 earmark on Wikipedia
Pliers used to make an earmark.


ear +‎ mark


  • (file)


earmark (third-person singular simple present earmarks, present participle earmarking, simple past and past participle earmarked)

  1. (transitive) To mark (sheep or other animals) by slitting the ear.
  2. (transitive, by extension) To specify or set aside for a particular purpose, to allocate.
    You can donate to the organization as a whole, or you can earmark your contribution for a particular project.
    • 2012, Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow, →ISBN, page 74:
      Now that police departments were suddenly flush with cash and military equipment earmarked for the drug war, they needed to make use of their new resources.
    • 2020 December 2, Christian Wolmar, “Wales offers us a glimpse of an integrated transport policy”, in Rail, page 56:
      A widening of the M4 had long been mooted, and the Welsh Government had even earmarked most of the required £1.6bn funding for a new 14-mile, six-lane section around Newport. Then, in the face of opposition from environmentalists, came a realisation that similar road schemes across the world tend merely to encourage greater car use and therefore soon prove ineffective in solving the original problem.
    1. (transitive, finance, UK) To designate part of a pension to be payable to the holder's former spouse or partner at its time of payment.




earmark (plural earmarks)

  1. A mark or deformation of the ear of an animal, intended to indicate ownership.
  2. (US, politics) The designation of specific projects in appropriations of funding for general programs.
  3. A mark for identification; a distinguishing mark.
    • 1860, John Wharton, The Law Lexicon:
      Money has no earmark.
    • 1959, Brunettie Burrow, Angels in White:
      I saw in my patient one of the most forbidding men I have ever met. He had all the earmarks of a criminal.

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