1. an occupation or profession, especially one requiring special training, followed as one’s lifework: He sought a career as a lawyer.
  2. a person’s progress or general course of action through life or through a phase of life, as in some profession or undertaking: His career as a soldier ended with the armistice.
  3. success in a profession, occupation, etc.
  4. a course, especially a swift one.
  5. speed, especially full speed: The horse stumbled in full career.
  6. Archaic. a charge at full speed.

verb (used without object)

  1. to run or move rapidly along; go at full speed.


  1. having or following a career; professional: a career diplomat.


  1. a path or progress through life or history
  2. a profession or occupation chosen as one’s life’s work
  3. (modifier) having or following a career as specifieda career diplomat
  4. a course or path, esp a swift or headlong one


  1. (intr) to move swiftly along; rush in an uncontrolled way

1590s, “to charge at a tournament,” from career (n.). The meaning “move rapidly, run at full speed” (1640s) is from the image of a horse “passing a career” on the jousting field, etc. Related: Careered; careering.


1530s, “a running (usually at full speed), a course” (especially of the sun, etc., across the sky), from Middle French carriere “road, racecourse” (16c.), from Old Provençal or Italian carriera, from Vulgar Latin *(via) cararia “carriage (road), track for wheeled vehicles,” from Latin carrus “chariot” (see car). Sense of “course of a working life” first attested 1803.

see checkered career.

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