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From Middle English carpenter, from Anglo-Norman carpenter (compare Old French charpentier), from Late Latin carpentārius (a carpenter), from Latin carpentārius (a wagon-maker, carriage-maker), from Latin carpentum (a two-wheeled carriage, coach, or chariot, a cart), from Gaulish carbantos, from Proto-Celtic *karbantos (chariot, war chariot), probably related to Proto-Celtic *karros (wagon). More at car.

Displaced native Old English trēowwyrhta (literally tree worker).



carpenter (plural carpenters)

  1. A person skilled at carpentry, the trade of cutting and joining timber in order to construct buildings or other structures.
  2. (nautical) A senior rating in ships responsible for all the woodwork onboard; in the days of sail, a warrant officer responsible for the hull, masts, spars and boats of a ship, and whose responsibility was to sound the well to see if the ship was making water.
  3. A two-wheeled carriage.
  4. (zoology) A carpenter bee.
    • 1968, Elliot C. G. Pinhey, Introduction to insect study in Africa (page 146)
      The large, stout African bees are carpenters (Xylocopa), making small tunnels in timber, housing few individuals.
  5. (Canada, Britain, regional) A woodlouse.
    • 2015, A.D. Barber, “Vernacular names of woodlice with particular reference to Devonshire”, in Bulletin of the British Myriapod & Isopod Group, page 58:
      Eleven names in Laver’s table (just over 6%) are of the “carpenter” type, a name for woodlice also recorded in Shropshire and Warwickshire. [] Apparently a Newfoundland word for woodlouse is “carpenter” or “cafner” (another is also “boat-builder”). These names clearly relate to the animals’ affinity to wood as will “carpenter’s flea”, “wood-pig”, “wood-bug”, “grampus wood-bug” and, of course “woodlouse”.


Related terms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]



carpenter (third-person singular simple present carpenters, present participle carpentering, simple past and past participle carpentered)

  1. To work as a carpenter, cutting and joining timber.
    Synonym: (rare) carpent

Further reading[edit]

Middle English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


Borrowed from Anglo-Norman carpenter (compare Old French charpentier), from Late Latin carpentārius.


  • IPA(key): /karpɛnˈteːr/, /ˈkarpɛntər/


carpenter (plural carpenteres)

  1. carpenter

Related terms[edit]


  • English: carpenter
  • Scots: carpenter


Old French[edit]


carpenter m (oblique plural carpenters, nominative singular carpenters, nominative plural carpenter)

  1. Alternative form of charpantier
    • circa 1155, Wace, Le Roman de Brut:
      Maçons fist querre et carpenters
      Si fist refaire les mousters
      He searched for masons and carpenters
      in order to rebuild the minsters.