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as in:  the senator earmarked the funds

He earmarked a million dollars for the museum.
  politics:  congressional instructions (often never voted upon) specifying how funds should be spent

or (more generally):  give or assign a resource to a particular person or cause
 Mark word for later review on this computer
earmarks earmark
Hard earmarks are specified in legislation that received a vote, but when discussing earmarks, people are typically referencing soft earmarks that add spending suggestions after the vote, but which Federal agencies always respect.

For example, a 300 billion dollar highway bill is passed. Afterwards, an appropriations committee adds some instructions listing thousands of projects they would like funded that will require 10% of the funds. There might be a new freeway in one state and a bike path in someone’s district. The controversy is that these details were never voted upon and that Federal agencies did not get to set priorities on the spending.

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  • He earmarked a million dollars for the museum.
  • Perhaps I wanted to auction them off, with the proceeds earmarked for specific organizations or universities?
    Nicholas Sparks  --  The Longest Ride
  • I paused, recalling Uncle Lambert’s voracious appetite for knowledge, and that cheerfully objective cynicism that regarded all religion merely as one of the earmarks by which a culture could be cataloged.
    Diana Gabaldon  --  Outlander
  • He was helpful and dependable when they needed assistance with their lessons; he had a sharp wit and could ruin any child by the apt nickname he coined, the kind that hurt; he drew devastating cartoons on fences; he had all the earmarks of a sissy, but somehow he could not be classified as one; he had too much self-assurance and quiet, disturbingly wise contempt for everybody.
    Ayn Rand  --  The Fountainhead

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  • Why, he had all the earmarks of a typewriter copyist, if you leave out the disposition to contribute uninvited emendations of your grammar and punctuation.
    Mark Twain  --  A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
  • This was one of the significant earmarks of his life.
    Hermann Hesse  --  Steppenwolf
  • In these respects, it is perfectly familiar to Hiro: it bears the earmarks of a high-tech product that is still under development.
    Neal Stephenson  --  Snow Crash
  • That would carry over onto the field throughout this season, which at the moment was beginning to have all the earmarks of being very special.
    Tim Tebow  --  Through My Eyes
  • She might have to take them on a train, and she couldn’t ride on a train with her clothing torn, it was one of the earmarks of the fugitive.
    Ann Petry  --  Harriet Tubman
  • I’d take all the money we’re sending to the Middle East, where we’re trying to pay people to be our friends, and divert it to Canada and earmark it to help raise ducks.
    Phil Robertson  --  Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander

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  • The major criterion left untested is one we cannot test here; that undefinable something which is the difference between a leader in battle . and one who merely has the earmarks but not the vocation.
    Robert A. Heinlein  --  Starship Troopers
  • About a quarter of one’s salary had to be earmarked for voluntary subscriptions, which were so numerous that it was difficult to keep track of them.
    George Orwell  --  1984
  • He had never before spent a needless penny, since all money had been earmarked for his bookstore.
    John Steinbeck  --  East of Eden
  • He’ll be quoting Scripture; he probably has some passages already earmarked.
    Ron Suskind  --  A Hope in the Unseen
  • And it was obvious that most of the money that reached this altitude was earmarked for the army, to finance its costly standoff with Indian forces along the Siachen Glacier.
    Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin  --  Three Cups of Tea
  • Helen has earmarked the broth and bouillon for Dan until he’s better; and the candy for the children.
    Pat Frank  --  Alas, Babylon
  • They worked two days in the holdingpens branding and earmarking and castrating and dehorning and inoculating.
    Cormac McCarthy  --  All the Pretty Horses
  • Every year, the government awarded European scholarships, each one earmarked for a certain needed profession, and if you won one and were poor, you accepted for the chance to eat three meals a day, one of them hot.
    Julia Alvarez  --  How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
  • The book had been earmarked to the Gospel of Thomas.
    Jodi Picoult  --  Change of Heart
  • She became famous when, in anticipation of her own death, she gave her life savings to the local university as an endowment for scholarships earmarked for poor students.
    Rick Bragg  --  All Over but the Shoutin’
  • We’ve taken two articles earmarked for the issue after this one and we’re going to fill the gaps with freelance material.
    Stieg Larsson  --  The Girl Who Played with Fire
  • Part was earmarked for the bank to finance the next big phase of her long-term program.
    Russell Baker  --  Growing Up
  • And if I end up stuck in the storm and doomed to die, I’m totally eating the other earmarked meals.
    Andy Weir  --  The Martian
  • Only a thin trickle of food was coming into King’s Landing, most of it earmarked for castle and garrison.
    George R.R. Martin  --  A Clash of Kings
  • He reportedly earned $160,000 for his appearance in the sixty-second spot, money earmarked for his nonprofit foundation.
    Eric Schlosser  --  Fast Food Nation
  • To make sure these properties were constant throughout the park, Burnham had his chief engineer, Abraham Gottlieb, test locations earmarked for other buildings.
    Erik Larson  --  The Devil in the White City
  • In a couple of cases he had, in effect, paid their tuition, by giving money to a school fund earmarked for scholarships for those who couldn’t afford tuition.
    Michael Lewis  --  The Blind Side
  • Authority would call it rebellion and warship would orbit with bombs earmarked for L-City and Hong Kong and Tycho Under and Churchill and Novylen, troops would land, grain barges would lift, under guard—and farmers would break necks to cooperate.
    Robert A. Heinlein  --  The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
  • Ingela Oskarsson, who did the bookkeeping two days a week, had no responsibility for the budget and was not at all helpful when it came to making decisions about how much a freelancer should be paid or whether they could afford to buy a new laser printer that was not already included in the sum earmarked for capital investments or IT upgrades.
    Stieg Larsson  --  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
  • The gunmen guarding the bridge lived up a valley nearby and claimed that a contractor from the government in distant lowland Islamabad arrived with millions of rupees earmarked to widen their game trails into logging roads, so these men could sell their timber.
    Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin  --  Three Cups of Tea
  • Berger proposed, and it was agreed, that 1 million be set aside as a fund against future crises; that 250,000 kronor be reserved for capital investments, such as new computers and other equipment, and repairs at the editorial offices; and that 300,000 kronor be earmarked for salary increases and to allow them to offer Cortez a full-time contract.
    Stieg Larsson  --  The Girl Who Played with Fire
  • Dallas’s defenses cracked on next salvo; Mike gave their spaceport three more (already committed) then shifted back to Cheyenne Mountain—later ones had never been nudged and were still earmarked "Cheyenne Mountain.
    Robert A. Heinlein  --  The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
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Associated words [difficulty]:   earmark [6] , pressure group [8] , referendum [7] , logrolling [9]
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Most commonly used in these subjects:   Public Policy & Politics, Personal Finance, Sports
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