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From Middle English kerven, from Old English ceorfan, from Proto-West Germanic *kerban, from Proto-Germanic *kerbaną, from Proto-Indo-European *gerbʰ- (to scratch). Cognate with West Frisian kerve, Dutch kerven, Low German karven, German kerben (to notch); also Old Prussian gīrbin (number), Old Church Slavonic жрѣбии (žrěbii, lot, tallymark), Ancient Greek γράφειν (gráphein, to scratch, etch).



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

  1. (archaic) To cut.
  2. To cut meat in order to serve it.
    You carve the roast and I’ll serve the vegetables.
  3. To shape to sculptural effect; to produce (a work) by cutting, or to cut (a material) into a finished work, especially with cuts that are curved rather than only straight slices.
    to carve a name into a tree
    • 1920, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Thuvia, Maiden of Mars[1], The Gutenberg Project, published 2008:
      The facades of the buildings fronting upon the avenue within the wall were richly carven [] .
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter I, 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.
  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 take or make, as by cutting; to provide.
    • 1692–1717, Robert South, Twelve Sermons Preached upon Several Occasions, 6th edition, volumes (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: [] J[ames] Bettenham, for Jonah Bowyer, [], published 1727, →OCLC:
      [] who could easily have carved themselves their own food.
    • 2010 December 29, Sam Sheringham, “Liverpool 0 - 1 Wolverhampton”, in BBC[2]:
      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.
  6. To lay out; to contrive; to design; to plan.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



carve (plural carves)

  1. (obsolete) A carucate.
    • 1862, Calendar of the Patent and Close Rolls of Chancery in Ireland:
      ... half a carve of arable land in Ballyncore, one carve of arable land in Pales, a quarter of arable land in Clonnemeagh, half a carve of arable land in Ballyfaden, half a carve of arable land in Ballymadran, ...
    • 1868, John Harland (editor), Wapentake of West Derby, in Remains, Historical and Literary, Connected with the Palatine Counties of Lancaster and Chester, (translating a Latin text c. 1320-46), page 31
      Whereof John de Ditton holds a moiety of the village for half a carve of land.
  2. The act of carving
    give that turkey a careful carve


Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of kerven