There are 2 main definitions of mark in English:

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mark 1

Pronunciation: /märk/


1A small area on a surface having a different color from its surroundings, typically one caused by accident or damage: the blow left a red mark down one side of her face
More example sentences
  • The yellow sponged raked over the arm viciously causing a deep red scuff marks to surface.
  • Looking up, she saw several holes dotted along its surface, burned scorch marks surrounding the edges.
  • Oh boy… did I do a lot of damage… his whole face was either covered in red marks or a bruise.
blemish, streak, spot, fleck, dot, blot, stain, smear, speck, speckle, blotch, smudge, smut, fingermark, fingerprint;
bruise, discoloration;
informal splotch
technical stigma
1.1A spot, area, or feature on a person’s or animal’s body by which they may be identified or recognized: he was five feet nine, with no distinguishing marks
More example sentences
  • I recognized individuals by natural marks such as black spots on the back or head and their toe-clip pattern.
  • He had no tattoos or other distinguishing body marks but he had two crowns on teeth to the front of his right upper jaw, possibly suggesting an accident or sporting injury.
  • The man was not immediately identified as the former Iraqi leader but marks on his body and other undisclosed information quickly indicated they had their man.
2A line, figure, or symbol made as an indication or record of something.
Example sentences
  • Here are some useful sites for anyone needing to display diacritical marks, mathematical symbols, etc.
  • The stress marks might seem quaint to us; but McGuffey believed that rhythm and harmony have not only an aesthetic but also a moral value.
  • Although most of the headstones are severely weathered and illegible, cemetery staff will record all legible marks and inscriptions before removing the stones.
2.1A written symbol made on a document in place of a signature by someone who cannot write.
effect, impact, influence
2.2A level or stage that is considered significant: unemployment had passed the two million mark
More example sentences
  • The day's only climb, a fourth category rise over the Cote de Boutancourt, comes early in the stage at the 8.5km mark.
  • Richard Virenque takes the third climb at the halfway mark of the stage.
  • Today sales are steering towards the three-quarters of a million mark.
point, level, stage, degree
2.3A sign or indication of a quality or feeling: the flag was at half-mast as a mark of respect
More example sentences
  • So the fact that this building is expensive is a mark of its quality.
  • Somehow, the brand of the magazine becomes the mark of quality rather than the individual work in it.
  • Flags were flying at half mast as a mark of respect for the Duke of Norfolk who died two days ago at the age of 86, the Arundel ground being part of the Duke's estate.
symptom, evidence, proof
characteristic, feature, trait, attribute, quality, hallmark, calling card, badge, stamp, property, indicator
2.4A characteristic property or feature: it is the mark of a civilized society to treat its elderly members well
2.5A competitor’s starting point in a race.
Example sentences
  • He might have obtained better results simply by taking the differences in the lanes' staggered starting marks for an appropriate track event.
  • He pocketed the penultimate race even after having to re-round the starting mark as he had jumped the start.
  • The handicapper's job is to make the race as competitive as possible by giving each competitor a mark off which to run.
2.6 Nautical A piece of material or a knot used to indicate a depth on a sounding line.
2.7 Telecommunications One of two possible states of a signal in certain systems. The opposite of space.
3A point awarded for a correct answer or for proficiency in an examination or competition: many candidates lose marks because they don’t read the questions carefully figurative full marks to them for highlighting the threat to the rainforest
More example sentences
  • There will be no marks awarded for the answer ‘They both write historical fantasy’.
  • It is possible to discourage guessing by allocating one mark for a correct answer and minus one for an incorrect answer.
  • Although the paper is 80 marks / answer all questions, there is some consolation in that several questions are perennial.
3.1A figure or letter representing the total correct answers in an examination and signifying a person’s score: the highest mark was 98 percent
More example sentences
  • These are some of the terms used to describe children unable to learn or more importantly who score poor marks in their examinations.
  • Researchers discovered that different academics gave different marks for the same essays.
  • The problems in the evaluation system is not limited to the disparity in marks between different universities.
grade, grading, rating, score, percentage
3.2(Especially in track and field) a time or distance achieved by a competitor, especially one which represents a record or personal best.
Example sentences
  • He also helped set three relay world records and lowered his own mark in the 400 freestyle.
  • Thorpe is the current Olympic and triple world champion in the 400 meters and holds three world marks in freestyle distances.
  • In these she recorded marks of 12. 53s and 1. 51m to put her in an overall 14th place.
4(Followed by a numeral) a particular model or type of a vehicle, machine, or device: a Mark 10 Jaguar
5A target: few bullets could have missed their mark
More example sentences
  • She threw the last knife she was holding at the target in frustration, not hitting far off from the target mark.
  • This makes it difficult to say when a particular quatrain has missed or hits its mark.
  • As she develops she should be able to reach out and grab an object, even though she often misses the mark on the first try.
5.1 informal, chiefly US A person who is easily deceived or taken advantage of: they figure I’m an easy mark
More example sentences
  • She thereby revealed herself to be a patsy, a mark, a victim of the Big Con.
  • The American salesman, everyone concedes, is the American salesman's easiest mark.
  • She actually felt sorry for her; Scott was the worst person to work with when there was a major mark on the line.


[with object]
1Make (a visible impression or stain) on: he fingered the photograph gently, careful not to mark it
More example sentences
  • They were faded, some stained by water from rain and a few marked by mud or beer.
  • Her gray dress was torn and dirty, marked more so by several spots of blood.
  • She turned a corner and stopped before colliding into a little boy, face marked with tears.
discolor, stain, smear, smudge, streak, blotch, blemish;
dirty, pockmark, bruise
informal splotch
literary smirch
1.1 [no object] Become stained: it is made from a sort of woven surface which doesn’t mark or tear
2Write a word or symbol on (an object), typically for identification: she marked all her possessions with her name [with object and complement]: an envelope marked “private and confidential.”
More example sentences
  • They have placed it in a sealed envelope marked private and confidential.
  • Written references should always be marked private personal and confidential and should be sent in a sealed envelope by post or courier.
  • Anyone without a bank account can make a cash donation by placing it in an envelope marked Christmas Care and give it to reception at the Information Centre.
put one's name on, name, initial, label, identify;
hallmark, watermark, brand
indicate, label, flag, tick, check off, highlight;
show, identify, designate, delineate, denote, specify
2.1Write (a word or figure) on an object: she marked the date down on a card
More example sentences
  • He turned his wrist over and revealed a series of code symbols marked on his arm.
2.2 (mark something off) Put a line by or through something written or printed on paper to indicate that it has passed or been dealt with: he marked off their names in a ledger
More example sentences
  • As we laboriously went through each box, we marked them off in our spreadsheet.
  • We'd mark them off on a sheet displayed proudly on the refrigerator, until the sheet was filled and we'd read the required number of books to win the prize. I don't remember now what any of the prizes were.
  • The child marks the item off the list with help from his/her mother.
3Show the position of: the top of the pass marks the border between Alaska and the Yukon
More example sentences
  • We moored to the buoy that marks the Haven's position, and Gino put the decompression station in place.
  • The position of each station will be marked by a cross.
  • Two large stones also stand almost due east and west to mark the local equinoctial positions of the sun.
3.1Separate or delineate (a particular section or area of something): you need to mark out the part of the garden where the sun lingers longest
More example sentences
  • Barbed wire separates the houses from a caravan park on one side, and a tall steel perimeter fence clearly marks the area as separate from the rest of the street.
  • A low fence of split bamboo marked off an inside area the width of a boxing ring and twice as long.
  • Arrowheads in B and C mark the zone of separation of the ectopic eye from the normal compound eye.
3.2(Of a particular quality or feature) separate or distinguish (someone or something) from other people or things: his sword marked him out as an officer
More example sentences
  • Good distribution allied with his pace and defensive qualities mark him out as a fine prospect.
  • It doesn't make you part of a family, hanging out in the Apple store marks you out as a computer geek, not a trendsetter.
3.3 (mark someone out for) Select or destine someone for (a particular role or condition): the solicitor general marked him out for government office
More example sentences
  • That achievement marked him out for a leading role when Labour returned to power and his first Cabinet post was the major appointment of Foreign Secretary.
  • It is his difference from societal norms, not his choices, which mark him out for his eventual tragic fate.
  • His staff are afraid to venture into remote areas, and have mostly abandoned a fleet of grey Russian jeeps, which the UN has as transport but which they say only marks them out for attack.
3.4 (mark someone down as) Judge someone to be (a particular type or class of person): she had marked him down as a liberal
More example sentences
  • In the reviews section, the very similar Joss Stone is marked down as ‘an artist in it for the long haul.’
  • An old school report marked Clary down as ‘languid and superior’.
  • Whatever else happens at these world championships, Paris will be marked down as notable the moment that Haile Gebrselassie toes the start-line for the 10,000-metres final in the Stade de France tonight.
3.5Acknowledge, honor, or celebrate (an important event or occasion) with a particular action: to mark its fiftieth anniversary, the group held a fashion show
More example sentences
  • Plans are being formulated to hold a celebration event to mark the 10th anniversary of the club next April.
  • This ceremony is supposed to mark an important event in the life of the eunuchs, when they realise their dream of marrying for once.
  • It was the highlight of a series of events held last week to mark the beginning of six months of celebrations to marks the Quakers' important anniversary.
celebrate, observe, recognize, acknowledge, keep, honor, solemnize, pay tribute to, salute, commemorate, remember, memorialize
3.6Be an indication of (a significant occasion, stage, or development): the move to the new Globe theatre marked a new phase in Shakespeare’s writing career
More example sentences
  • The stage victory marked a reversal of fortunes for the 26-year-old who lost the prologue when his chain came off close to the finish.
  • Because the unit can be traced over several tens of kilometres, we suggest it marks a sub-regionally significant event in the Emeishan Province as basalt production terminated.
  • Ms McGreal said the event marked the end of the ‘talking phase’ for women in agriculture.
represent, signify, be a sign of, indicate, herald
3.7 (usually be marked) Characterize as having a particular quality or feature: the reaction to these developments has been marked by a note of hysteria
More example sentences
  • Sargent's work is marked by its exceptional lucidity, its exactness of expression and by the decisiveness of her results.
  • Clough's early works are marked by a subdued palette of largely browns, greys and greens.
  • His subsequent work was marked by an offbeat intensity.
characterize, distinguish, identify, typify, brand, signalize, stamp
3.8chiefly British (Of a clock or watch) show (a certain time): his watch marked five past eight
4(Of a teacher or examiner) assess the standard of (a piece of written work) by assigning points for proficiency or correct answers: the teachers are given adequate time to mark term papers
More example sentences
  • Work has been set for him and as far as I'm concerned it's being marked by teachers.
  • She says the programme involved properly supported unit standards marked by trained teachers and assessed to the standard.
  • It also says the initial measurement for seven-year-olds is unreliable as it is marked by teachers rather than external examiners.
assess, evaluate, grade, appraise, correct
4.1 (mark someone/something down) Reduce the number of marks awarded to a student, candidate, or their work: I was marked down for having skipped the last essay question
More example sentences
  • In addition, Mid Yorkshire was marked down for not ensuring at least 98 per cent of patients with suspected cancer were seen within two weeks.
  • Like the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Lewisham has been marked down for missing its four-hour A&E waiting time target for 2004 / 5.
  • A Merit would suffice, heck even a Pass would do as I know she's going to mark me down anyway because I slacked big time on the photography bit, but that was a different unit.
5Notice or pay careful attention to: he’ll leave you, you mark my words!
More example sentences
  • Marin didn't seem to notice, marking something on the paper in front of him.
take heed of, heed, listen to, take note of, pay attention to, attend to, note, mind, bear in mind, take into consideration
6(Of a player in a team game) stay close to (a particular opponent) in order to prevent them getting or passing the ball.
Example sentences
  • Harrogate were camped in their half for the entire game and despite marking Elliot Dowley ferociously were not able to match his pace and he put away a winner in the nick of time.
  • If he is assigned a player to mark throughout a game, it is almost guaranteed that that player will not have a large impact on the game.
  • Lorraine Pugh had her best performance in the game against Glynn as she was marking their best player Anne-Marie Moloney.



be quick (or slow) off the mark

Be fast (or slow) in responding to a situation or understanding something.
Example sentences
  • Police were quick off the mark and they were here really fast.
  • The Left has been slow off the mark in identifying the obvious American responsibility for that event.
  • Ford, too, has been slow off the mark but is catching up fast after it recently licensed hybrid technology from Toyota, while also giving a bit of its own technology back.
informal on the ball, quick on the uptake

get off the mark

Get started.
Example sentences
  • He will be approaching national companies in a bid to get some high-profile backing and has already got off the mark by selling his first perimeter board advert in his first week.

leave (or make) its (or one's or a) mark

Have a lasting or significant effect: she left her mark on the world of foreign policy
More example sentences
  • He penned pamphlets of protest, left his mark on Philadelphia's most significant free black institutions, and produced a moving spiritual autobiography.
  • Not all of us will get to do that, but you can with the self-assurance that you have indeed left your mark.
  • Today's Indian cuisine is certainly not exactly what it was thousands of years ago as invasions, migrations and travel have left their mark on the sub-continent.

make one's mark

Attain recognition or distinction.
Example sentences
  • The BBC will televise the second day of competition, and Brewer underlined the importance of new prospects making their mark if financial patronage is to be restored.
  • That women entrepreneurs and managers are making their mark in a world of men, even if recognition comes by way of separate women's awards.
  • First, his distinction is quite exceptional and we don't have to wait for it to be generally recognized that he has made his mark.
be successful, distinguish oneself, succeed, be a success, prosper, get ahead, make good
informal make it, make the grade

mark time

(Of troops) march on the spot without moving forward.
Example sentences
  • I had them mark time and started them off marching down the trail that led to the football field.
  • He blew his whistle, signaling for the band to mark time.
  • Still, some steps are better than just marking time in place, right?
5.1Pass one’s time in routine activities until a more favorable or interesting opportunity presents itself.
Example sentences
  • But he's only marking time until he can return to New Orleans.
  • In the short term the markets are still nervous and will mark time until the outlook for the US becomes more certain.
  • The secondary has to find out and the kids with a high-level D have to mark time until those without catch up.

mark you

chiefly British Used to emphasize or draw attention to a statement: I was persuaded, against my better judgment, mark you, to vote for him
More example sentences
  • This statement, mark you, is made by a man who is described at the foot of the article as the Washington Post's book critic.
  • I suppose if I were to take a full time teaching post then I could have a nice hefty mortgage and afford a house of decent proportions… not on the salary, mark you, but on the combination of salary and equity from this house.
  • Yet we expect officials to train themselves, prepare themselves and make the important decisions week in and week out for #310 a game - and that, mark you, is for the top referees.

near (or close) to the mark

Almost accurate: to say he was their legal adviser would be nearer the mark
More example sentences
  • Mr Sheridan said claims indicate their initial estimates that close to £4m will be required to compensate investors will be very close to the mark.
  • Although descriptions of Clarke as the ‘next Waugh’ appeared trite, they are starting to look eerily close to the mark.
  • Caddell is not alone among the anti-Bush who acknowledge that some Bush attacks are uncomfortably close to the mark.

off (or wide of) the mark

1A long way from an intended target: his shot never is off the mark for long
2Incorrect or inaccurate: the accusation was a little wide of the mark
More example sentences
  • The Atkins diet may turn out to be completely off the mark, but it shouldn't be dismissed yet.
  • The analogy with a Chelsea footballer or a classical pianist is completely off the mark.
  • Readers are welcome to put me in my place and show me that I'm completely off the mark!

of mark

dated Having importance or distinction: he had been a man of mark
More example sentences
  • In 1607 he was apprenticed to his uncle Sir William Herrick, goldsmith, a man of mark who was MP for Leicester, owned land in 13 counties, and had been knighted in 1605.
  • There was also the prospect of becoming a man of mark back home when the volunteer's term was up.

on the mark

Correct; accurate.
Example sentences
  • That said, I voted for John Edwards because I'm a bit of a contrarian and because I think he's on the mark when he talks about two Americas.
  • In a call for ‘appropriate content’ for an audience, it sounds like this is on the mark.
  • I'd check back occasionally, and Jonas would always be on the mark with whatever analysis or discussion he was having.

on your marks

Used to instruct competitors in a race to prepare themselves in the correct starting position: on your marks, get set, go!

up to the mark

Of the required standard.
Example sentences
  • He held several senior positions at the infirmary, notably chairman of a committee which makes sure clinical standards are up to the mark.
  • Good firms tend to have demanding customers, which stands to reason: picky customers keep you up to the mark by requiring value for money and telling you if you don't give it.
  • Even so, the TV audio quality was not up to the mark.
[usually with negative]12.1 (Of a person) as healthy or in as good spirits as usual: Johnny’s not feeling up to the mark at the moment

Phrasal verbs


mark something down

(Of a retailer) reduce the indicated price of an item.
reduce, decrease, lower, cut, put down, discount
informal slash

mark something up

1(Of a retailer) add a certain amount to the cost of goods to cover overhead and profit: they mark up the price of imported wines by 66 percent
2Annotate or correct text for printing, keying, or typesetting.
Example sentences
  • These files would be mostly text files, but they would be marked up with a tag language (a subset of SGML called Hypertext Markup language, or HTML).
  • In the mid '70s, I got involved on the tail end of a really sexy project in publishing, creating a system that allowed editors to take text and mark it up on screen.
  • I had remembered to bring my copy, but I had already marked it up with all the comments I was going to make during the talk.
increase, raise, up, put up, hike (up), escalate
informal jack up


Old English mearc, gemerce (noun), mearcian (verb), of Germanic origin; from an Indo-European root shared by Latin margo 'margin'.

Words that rhyme with mark

arc, ark, Bach, bark, barque, Braque, Clark, clerk, dark, embark, hark, impark, Iraq, Ladakh, Lamarck, lark, macaque, marc, marque, narc, nark, Newark, park, quark, sark, shark, snark, spark, stark, Vlach

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Syllabification: mark

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There are 2 main definitions of mark in English:

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mark 2

Pronunciation: /märk/


1The basic monetary unit of Germany (until the introduction of the euro), equal to 100 pfennigs; a Deutschmark or, formerly, an Ostmark.
Example sentences
  • Moreover, the budget was burdened annually to the tune of over 10 billion German marks by the war against the Kurds.
  • Some 7.5 billion of German marks are frozen in state banks.
  • This in turn is equal to 1.95583 German marks, or 6.55957 French francs, or 166.386 Spanish pesetas, and so on.
2A former English and Scottish money of account, equal to thirteen shillings and four pence in the currency of the day.
Example sentences
  • Mrs Burdett was to be paid in marks, which is an archaic form of English currency (20 marks was quite a generous amount).
  • In 1189 King William had taken advantage of Richard's financial needs to buy his freedom from English allegiance for 10,000 marks.
2.1A denomination of weight for gold and silver, formerly used throughout western Europe and typically equal to 8 ounces (226.8 grams).
Example sentences
  • Inside there were about two hundred gold marks.
  • If that lord fails to do this, that lord must pay me 46 marks of silver.
  • He produces a silver mark from his purse and holds it up for the man to see.


Old English marc, from Old Norse mǫrk; probably related to mark1.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: mark

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