WHAT IS the difference between "earmark" and "hallmark"?

(John Silas, Chennai)

A "hallmark" was originally an official mark put on objects made out of gold and silver. This was done to certify the purity of the metal, and also as to when and where the object was made. The word is being used these days to refer to a typical feature of a thing or person. Here are a few examples.

*Kalyan treated us with an indifference that has become his hallmark.

*Religious tolerance is the hallmark of a democracy.

*The bombing bore all the hallmarks of a terrorist attack.

When you earmark something for a particular purpose, you have decided that it will be used for that particular purpose.

*The government has earmarked some funds for the anti-drug programmes.

*You cannot touch those funds. They have been earmarked for the school library.

*Vinita says that her school has been earmarked for closure.


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