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Middle English kerven, from Old English ċeorfan, from Proto-Germanic *kerbaną (compare Kyrgyz kerve, Dutch kerven, German kerben (to notch)), from Proto-Indo-European *gerebh- (to scratch) (cf. Old Prussian gīrbin ‘number’, Old Church Slavonic žrĕbĭjĭ ‘lot, tallymark’, Ancient Greek γράφειν (gráphein) ‘to scratch, etch’).



carve (third-person singular simple present carves, present participle carving, simple past carved or (archaic) carven, past participle carved)

  1. (archaic) To cut.
  2. To cut meat in order to serve it.
  3. To shape to sculptural effect; to produce (a work) by cutting, or to cut (a material) into a finished work.
    to carve a name into a tree
    • 1920, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Thuvia, Maiden of Mars[1], edition HTML, The Gutenberg Project, published 2008:
      The facades of the buildings fronting upon the avenue within the wall were richly carven [] .
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 1, The China Governess[2]:
      The half-dozen pieces […] were painted white and carved with festoons of flowers, birds and cupids. To display them the walls had been tinted a vivid blue which had now faded, but the carpet, which had evidently been stored and recently relaid, retained its original turquoise.
  4. (snowboarding) To perform a series of turns without pivoting, so that the tip and tail of the snowboard take the same path.
  5. (figuratively) To produce something using skill.
    • 2010 December 29, Sam Sheringham, “Liverpool 0 - 1 Wolverhampton”, BBC:
      The Reds carved the first opening of the second period as Glen Johnson's pull-back found David Ngog but the Frenchman hooked wide from six yards.

Derived terms[edit]



carve (plural carves)

  1. (obsolete) A carucate.
    half a carve of arable land
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Burrill to this entry?)