[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. karanda,
  2. karanga,
  3. karankawa,
  4. karaoke,
  5. karat,
  6. karate-chop,
  7. karateka,
  8. karaya gum,
  9. karbala,
  10. karearea

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

Examples from the Web for karate

British Dictionary definitions for karate


/ (kəˈrɑːtɪ) /


  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