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From Middle English carrien, borrowed from Anglo-Norman carier (modern French: charrier); from a derivative of Latin carrus (four-wheeled baggage wagon), ultimately of Gaulish origin. Replaced native Middle English ferien (to carry, transport, convey) (from Old English ferian) and Middle English aberen (to carry, bear, endure) (from Old English āberan).



carry (third-person singular simple present carries, present participle carrying, simple past and past participle carried)

  1. (transitive) To lift (something) and take it to another place; to transport (something) by lifting.
    • 1900, L. Frank Baum, chapter 23, in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz:
      "By means of the Golden Cap I shall command the Winged Monkeys to carry you to the gates of the Emerald City," said Glinda, "for it would be a shame to deprive the people of so wonderful a ruler."
    • 1915, Emerson Hough, The Purchase Price, chapterII:
      Carried somehow, somewhither, for some reason, on these surging floods, were these travelers, of errand not wholly obvious to their fellows, yet of such sort as to call into query alike the nature of their errand and their own relations. It is easily earned repetition to state that Josephine St. Auban's was a presence not to be concealed.
    • 2013 June 29, “Unspontaneous combustion”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8842, page 29:
      Since the mid-1980s, when Indonesia first began to clear its bountiful forests on an industrial scale in favour of lucrative palm-oil plantations, “haze” has become an almost annual occurrence in South-East Asia. The cheapest way to clear logged woodland is to burn it, producing an acrid cloud of foul white smoke that, carried by the wind, can cover hundreds, or even thousands, of square miles.
  2. To transfer from one place (such as a country, book, or column) to another.
    to carry the war from Greece into Asia
    to carry an account to the ledger
  3. To convey by extension or continuance; to extend.
    The builders are going to carry the chimney through the roof.  They would have carried the road ten miles further, but ran out of materials.
  4. (transitive, chiefly archaic) To move; to convey by force; to impel; to conduct; to lead or guide.
  5. (transitive) To stock or supply (something).
    The corner drugstore doesn't carry his favorite brand of aspirin.
  6. (transitive) To adopt (something); take (something) over.
    I think I can carry Smith's work while she is out.
  7. (transitive) To adopt or resolve upon, especially in a deliberative assembly
    The court carries that motion.
  8. (transitive, arithmetic) In an addition, to transfer the quantity in excess of what is countable in the units in a column to the column immediately to the left in order to be added there.
    Five and nine are fourteen; carry the one to the tens place.
  9. (transitive) To have or maintain (something).
    Always carry sufficient insurance to protect against a loss.
  10. (intransitive) To be transmitted; to travel.
    The sound of the bells carried for miles on the wind.
    • 1912, Stratemeyer Syndicate, chapter 1, in Baseball Joe on the School Nine:
      It might seem easy to hit the head of a barrel at that distance, but either the lads were not expert enough or else the snowballs, being of irregular shapes and rather light, did not carry well. Whatever the cause, the fact remained that the barrel received only a few scattering shots and these on the outer edges of the head.
  11. (slang, transitive) To insult, to diss.
  12. (transitive, nautical) To capture a ship by coming alongside and boarding.
  13. (transitive, sports) To transport (the ball) whilst maintaining possession.
    • 2011 December 21, Tom Rostance, “Fulham 0-5 Man Utd”, in BBC Sport:
      Nani collected the ball on the halfway line, drifted past Bryan Ruiz, and carried the ball unchallenged 50 yards down the left before picking out Welbeck for a crisp finish from seven yards.
  14. (transitive) To have on one's person.
    she always carries a purse;  marsupials carry their young in a pouch
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 10, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      Men that I knew around Wapatomac didn't wear high, shiny plug hats, nor yeller spring overcoats, nor carry canes with ivory heads as big as a catboat's anchor, as you might say.
    • 2013 July 20, “Old soldiers?”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8845:
      Whether modern, industrial man is less or more warlike than his hunter-gatherer ancestors is impossible to determine. [] One thing that is true, though, is that murder rates have fallen over the centuries, as policing has spread and the routine carrying of weapons has diminished. Modern society may not have done anything about war. But peace is a lot more peaceful.
  15. To be pregnant (with).
    The doctor said she's carrying twins.
  16. To have propulsive power; to propel.
    A gun or mortar carries well.
  17. To hold the head; said of a horse.
    to carry well, i.e. to hold the head high, with arching neck
  18. (hunting) To have earth or frost stick to the feet when running, as a hare.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Johnson to this entry?)
  19. To bear or uphold successfully through conflict, as a leader or principle; hence, to succeed in, as in a contest; to bring to a successful issue; to win.
    The Tories carried the election.
  20. (obsolete) To get possession of by force; to capture.
    • Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
      The town would have been carried in the end.
  21. To contain; to comprise; to bear the aspect of; to show or exhibit; to imply.
    • Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
      He thought it carried something of argument in it.
    • John Locke (1632-1705)
      It carries too great an imputation of ignorance.
  22. (reflexive) To bear (oneself); to behave or conduct.
    • Earl of Clarendon (1609-1674)
      He carried himself so insolently in the house, and out of the house, to all persons, that he became odious.
  23. To bear the charges or burden of holding or having, as stocks, merchandise, etc., from one time to another.
    A merchant is carrying a large stock;  a farm carries a mortgage;  a broker carries stock for a customer;  to carry a life insurance.



  • (in arithmetic): borrow (the equivalent reverse procedure in the inverse operation of subtraction)

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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


carry (plural carries)

  1. A manner of transporting or lifting something; the grip or position in which something is carried.
    Adjust your carry from time to time so that you don't tire too quickly.
  2. A tract of land over which boats or goods are carried between two bodies of navigable water; a portage.
    • 1862, The Atlantic Monthly (volume 10, page 533)
      Undrowned, unducked, as safe from the perils of the broad lake as we had come out of the defiles of the rapids, we landed at the carry below the dam at the lake's outlet.
  3. (computing) The bit or digit that is carried in an addition operation.
    • 1988, Michael A. Miller, The 68000 Microprocessor, page 45:
      On paper, simply add the carry to the next addition; that is, $B2 + $9C + 1. That's fine for paper, but how is it done by computer?

Derived terms[edit]