[waw-ter-mahrk, wot-er-]


a mark indicating the height to which water rises or has risen, as in a river or inlet.
a figure or design impressed in some paper during manufacture, visible when the paper is held to the light.

verb (used with object)

to mark (paper) with a watermark.
to impress (a design, pattern, etc.), as a watermark.

Origin of watermark

First recorded in 1625–35; water + mark1
Related formsun·wa·ter·marked, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for watermark

apex, apogee, acme, ceiling, peak, tidemark

Examples from the Web for watermark

Contemporary Examples of watermark

Historical Examples of watermark

  • A white silk handkerchief, with a watermark, was chosen instead.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • They held the envelope up to the light in order to discover a watermark.

    The Island Mystery

    George A. Birmingham

  • The paper is white wove and has no watermark, and the stamps were not perforated.


    Frederick John Melville

  • It was the doubt I entertained of the faithfulness of this watermark.

    The Boy Tar

    Mayne Reid

  • The detection of this watermark fraud is simple and infallible.

    The Detection of Forgery

    Douglas Blackburn

British Dictionary definitions for watermark



a distinguishing mark impressed on paper during manufacture, visible when the paper is held up to the light

verb (tr)

to mark (paper) with a watermark
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 watermark

1708, "distinctive mark on paper," from water (n.1) + mark (n.1). Cf. German wassermarke. Not produced by water, but probably so called because it looks like a wet spot. The verb is recorded from 1866.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper