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French Neoclassical carpet, circa 1814-1830
The Ardabil Carpet, circa 1539-1543


From late Middle English carpette, from Old French carpite, from Medieval Latin carpita/Italian carpita, introduced in the 13th century by the Florentines from the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, from Middle Armenian կարպետ (karpet, carpet, rug), earlier կապերտ (kapert).



carpet (countable and uncountable, plural carpets)

  1. A fabric used as a complete floor covering.
    • 1913, Mrs. [Marie] Belloc Lowndes, chapter I, in The Lodger, London: Methuen, →OCLC; republished in Novels of Mystery: The Lodger; The Story of Ivy; What Really Happened, New York, N.Y.: Longmans, Green and Co., [], [1933], →OCLC, page 0016:
      A great bargain also had been the excellent Axminster carpet which covered the floor; as, again, the arm-chair in which Bunting now sat forward, staring into the dull, small fire.
    • 1946 March and April, “State Railway Dreams”, in Railway Magazine, page 67:
      The railways are anxious to refurbish their stations and rolling stock when they can get labour and materials, although it is unlikely that they contemplate deep carpets in wayside waiting rooms. Lack of carpets at present is not confined to railways, and roaring fires in the present fuel scarcity would probably be considered anti-social in wayside waiting rooms.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 1, in The China Governess: A Mystery, London: Chatto & Windus, →OCLC:
      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.
  2. (figuratively) Any surface or cover resembling a carpet or fulfilling its function.
    • 1595 December 9 (first known performance), William Shakespeare, “The life and death of King Richard the Second”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene iii]:
      the grassy carpet of this plain
    • 2009, Loren Long, Phil Bildner, Magic in the Outfield, page 47:
      Way deep in left field, where the carpet of green sloped upward to a terrace and greeted the thick line of trees, he reached out his glove.
  3. Any of a number of moths in the geometrid subfamily Larentiinae
  4. (obsolete) A wrought cover for tables.
    • 1655, Thomas Fuller, edited by James Nichols, The Church History of Britain, [], new edition, volumes (please specify |volume=I to III), London: [] [James Nichols] for Thomas Tegg and Son, [], published 1837, →OCLC:
      Tables and beds covered with copes instead of carpets and coverlets.
      The spelling has been modernized.
  5. (slang, vulgar) A woman's pubic hair.

Usage notes[edit]

The terms carpet and rug are often used interchangeably, but various distinctions are drawn. Most often, a rug is loose and covers part of a floor, while a carpet covers most or all of the floor, and may be loose or attached, while a fitted carpet runs wall-to-wall.

Initially carpet referred primarily to table and wall coverings, today called tablecloth or tapestry – the use of the term for floor coverings dates to the 18th century, following trade with Persia.

Derived terms[edit]

Terms derived from carpet (noun)


  • Japanese: カーペット (kāpetto)


Further reading[edit]


carpet (third-person singular simple present carpets, present participle carpeting, simple past and past participle carpeted)

  1. To lay carpet, or to have carpet installed, in an area.
    After the fire, they carpeted over the blackened hardwood flooring.
    The builders were carpeting in the living room when Zadie inspected her new house.
  2. (transitive) To substantially cover something, as a carpet does; to blanket something.
    Popcorn and candy wrappers carpeted the floor of the cinema.
    • 2017, Jennifer S. Holland, For These Monkeys, It’s a Fight for Survival., National Geographic (March 2017)[1]
      The town of Tompasobaru, a six-hour drive from Tangkoko, is known for the fragrant cloves that carpet the front yards of homes, drying on tarps in the sun. But in the town’s open market, the air hung heavy with the metallic smell of the butcher’s wares.
  3. (UK) To reprimand.
    • 1990, Peter Hopkirk, The Great Game, Folio Society, published 2010, page 428:
      Even Colonel Yakov, so recently carpeted by St Petersburg, was reported to be back in the Pamirs.
    • 1992 June 24, Edwina Currie, Diary:
      At 4pm, the phone went. It was The Sun: 'We hear your daughter's been expelled for cheating at her school exams...'

      She'd made a remark to a friend at the end of the German exam and had been pulled up for talking.

      As they left the exam room, she muttered that the teacher was a 'twat'. He heard and flipped—a pretty stupid thing to do, knowing the kids were tired and tense after exams. Instead of dropping it, the teacher complained to the Head and Deb was carpeted.






  1. third-person singular future active indicative of carpō

Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of carpette