- 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.
- to set aside for a specific purpose, use, recipient, etc.: to earmark goods for export.
- to mark with an earmark.
Origin of earmark
Examples from the Web for earmark
If those things can be done, I'd happily reward every member of Congress with an earmark of his or her very own.Why I Am Not A Deficit Hawk
April 18, 2012
If earmark reform was something that the public understood well enough to hunger for, John McCain would be our president.Obama's Most Blatant Hypocrisy
March 12, 2009
These minor obligations do not earmark more than an hour in the day.First and Last Things
H. G. Wells
It wont do, she averred, but Mr. Denby has every earmark of it.
Then follows the non sequitur, which is a Democratic earmark.The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, Vol. 8 (of 12)
Robert G. Ingersoll
So I earmark the calf with the owner's marks, and don't brand him at all.When A Man's A Man
Harold Bell Wright
I never saw a more typical criminal, Michael said, severely looking at the captive; every earmark of it.
- 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
Word Origin and History for earmark
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.