Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An identifying feature or characteristic: a novel with all the earmarks of success.
  • n. An identifying mark on the ear of a domestic animal.
  • transitive v. To reserve or set aside for a particular purpose. See Synonyms at allocate.
  • transitive v. To mark in an identifying or distinctive way.
  • transitive v. To mark the ear of (a domestic animal) for identification.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To mark (as of sheep) by slitting the ear.
  • v. To specify or set aside for a particular purpose.
  • n. A mark or deformation of the ear of an animal intended to indicate ownership.
  • n. The designation of specific projects in appropriations of funding for general programs.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A mark on the ear of sheep, oxen, dogs, etc., as by cropping or slitting.
  • n. A mark for identification; a distinguishing mark.
  • transitive v. To mark, as sheep, by cropping or slitting the ear.
  • transitive v. To designate or reserve for a specific purpose.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A mark on the ear by which a sheep or other domestic animal is known.
  • n. Figuratively, in law, any mark for identification, as a privy mark made on a coin.
  • n. Any characteristic or distinguishing mark, natural or other, by which the ownership or relation of something is known.
  • To mark, as sheep, by cropping or slitting the ear.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. identification mark on the ear of a domestic animal
  • v. give or assign a resource to a particular person or cause
  • n. a distinctive characteristic or attribute

Etymologies

ear +‎ mark (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • "There's been a lot of negative press around the term earmark," he explained, before pointing out some valuable projects that were funded by earmarks, such as the Iraq Study Group.

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  • The term earmark originated in ancient England when farmers tagged -- or marked the ears -- of their livestock mixed among the village herd.

    Business and financial news - CNNMoney.com

  • "If they don't like the term earmark, they can call it a member initiative.

    QCOnline Metro News

  • Then if the author votes against the bill, he obviously does not want his earmark, therefore if the bill passes, the earmark is struck and whatever monies are associated with that earmark reverts back to the discretionary budget of whatever government department was in charge of releasing those funds.

    House Republicans unveil initiative to target gov't spending

  • CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time Blog Archive - Group: Slight decline in earmark projects « - Blogs from CNN. com

    Group: Slight decline in earmark projects

  • Glad Shor wrote the earmark is for “Asian carp fish.”

    Matthew Yglesias » Carping

  • An earmark is a line-item that is inserted into a bill to direct funds to a specific project or recipient without any public hearing or review.

    Smart Mobs » Blog Archive » Smartmobbing Congressional Corruption

  • OK, assume for the sake of argument that the Mud Mountain Dam earmark is a Rube Goldberg device Cantwell cooked up to get repaid by Dotzauer.

    Sound Politics: More on Maria and Ron

  • The word earmark comes from the days when people would mark cows 'ears to show who owned them.

    CNN Transcript Mar 13, 2008

  • She explains how Earmark Invitations got its name. i sat down with my friendly little thesaurus one day and searched for a good word, under target i saw the word earmark, thought it had a nice ring to it a characteristic or identifying feature, is the description.

    ~Studio Marcy ~ Marcy Lamberson

Comments

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  • "Despite the media feeding frenzy, we still may be asking ourselves, 'Just who exactly is Sarah Palin?' Mixed in with the Davy-Crockett-meets-SuperMom vignettes -- all those moose hunting, ice fishing, snowmobiling, baby-juggling, and hockey-momming moments -- we've also learned that she doesn't care much for her former brother-in-law and wasn't afraid to use her office to go after his job as a state trooper; that she was for the 'bridge to nowhere' before she was against it; that she's against earmarks unless they benefit her constituents; that she can deliver a snappy wisecracking speech, thinks banning books in libraries is okay, considers herself a pit bull with lipstick, and above all else, wants to drill the ever-lovin' daylights out of every corner of her home state (which John McCain's handlers have somehow translated into being against Big Oil, since she insisted on a marginally bigger cut of the profits for Alaskans)."
    - Chip Ward, 'The Evolution of John McCain: Why He Picked Sarah Palin, Carbon Queen', 21 Sep 2008.

    September 22, 2008