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)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for karate

karate, wrestling, judo, aikido, jujitsu, kendo

Examples from the Web for karate

Contemporary Examples of karate

Historical Examples of karate

  • 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 for karate

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

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