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[kuh-rah-tee] /kəˈrɑ ti/
a method developed in Japan of defending oneself without the use of weapons by striking sensitive areas on an attacker's body with the hands, elbows, knees, or feet.
Compare judo, jujitsu.
a sport based on this method of self-defense.
Origin of karate
1950-55; < Japanese, equivalent to kara empty + te (earlier *tai) hand(s) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for karate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Joe's attacker tucked his chin into his shoulder, fighter style, and moved in throwing off the effects of the karate blows.

    Frigid Fracas Dallas McCord Reynolds
  • Before the native turned, the American's hand lashed out in a karate blow which stunned the other.

    Border, Breed Nor Birth Dallas McCord Reynolds
British Dictionary definitions for karate


  1. a traditional Japanese system of unarmed combat, employing smashes, chops, kicks, etc, made with the hands, feet, elbows, or legs
  2. (as modifier): a karate chop to the head
Word Origin
Japanese, literally: empty hand, from kara empty + te hand
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 karate

1955, Japanese, literally "empty hand, bare hand," from kara "empty" + te "hand." A devotee is a karateka.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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