To earmark something is to set it aside for a specific purpose. If you’re saving money to spend it in a particular way — whether it’s for college or a fancy new pair of shoes — you have earmarked that money.

Originally, an earmark was a mark on the ear of an animal — such as a sheep — that indicated ownership. Similarly, when government officials earmark a resource, they're indicating what the resource will be used for. Earmarking is usually about money. $10,000 could be earmarked for cancer research. A grant could be earmarked for a children's hospital. Earmarking is a way of stating how something will be used.

Definitions of earmark
  1. verb
    give or assign a resource to a particular person or cause
    “I will earmark this money for your research”
    synonyms: allow, appropriate, reserve, set aside
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    type of:
    allot, assign, portion
    give out
  2. noun
    identification mark on the ear of a domestic animal
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    type of:
    insignia, mark, marker, marking
    a distinguishing symbol
  3. noun
    a distinctive characteristic or attribute
    synonyms: hallmark, stylemark, trademark
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    mold, mould
    a distinctive nature, character, or type
    type of:
    a distinguishing quality
Word Family

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