Earmark is a compound word, which is a term made up of two or more words that when used together have a different meaning than the literal interpretation of the separate words. We will examine the meaning of the term earmark, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Earmark means to designate something for a particular purpose or designate something for a particular outcome. Earmark may also mean an identifying characteristic. Earmark may be used as a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object, or as a noun. Related words are earmarks, earmarked, earmarking. Earmark is a closed compound word, which is one with no spaces between the words, however it is occasionally seen in the hyphenated form as in earmark. The term earmark comes from farmers’ practice of designating their ownership of their pigs by notching their ears in distinctive ways. As the practice of notching pigs’ ears fell by the wayside, the term earmark persisted in the English language in a figurative sense.


The federal earmark of $3.2 million was the oldest outstanding transportation earmark in the country, Pontbriand said.  (The Lowell Sun)

Republican appropriators already tried this gambit once. Led by Representative Tom Rooney of Florida, they attempted to eliminate the ban on earmarks from House rules shortly after the November election. (The National Review)

Ashfield House, in Standish, was earmarked for sale in 2008 by local businessman Mel Street before his daughter stepped in. (The Manchester Evening News)

The charity has earmarked Highams Playing Fields or Livingstone Road Playing Fields, next to the Wham Stadium, as potential sites for the hub, which would host education courses for up to 50 full time students. (The Accrington Observer)

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