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Created date

December 1st, 2009

Centuries ago, when just about every farmer kept some sort of livestock both for sale and for their own sustenance, they identified ownership of each animal through one of two methods: branding or ear clipping. It's in the latter term that this phrase finds its origin. As opposed to today's use of metal identification tags, farmers then would clip the animal's ears creating a distinctive pattern along their edges that would serve as a permanent identifier or ear mark. Beginning around the 19th century, people started using this phrase to connote ownership or claim to a particular item--most commonly funds. "The committee has earmarked these funds for the construction of a new bridge."