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Middle English kerven, from Old English ceorfan, from Proto-Germanic *kerbaną, from Proto-Indo-European *gerbʰ- (to scratch). Cognate with West Frisian kerve, Low German karven, Dutch kerven, 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 or (archaic) corve, past participle carved or carven or (archaic) corven)

  1. (archaic) To cut.
    • Tennyson
      My good blade carved the casques of men.
  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.
    to carve a name into a tree
    • 1920, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Thuvia, Maiden of Mars[1], HTML edition, 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, in 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 take or make, as by cutting; to provide.
    • South
      [] who could easily have carved themselves their own food.
    • 2010 December 29, Sam Sheringham, “Liverpool 0 - 1 Wolverhampton”, in BBC[3]:
      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.
    • Shakespeare
      Lie ten nights awake carving the fashion of a new doublet.

Derived 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, Remains, Historical and Literary, Connected with the Palatine Counties of Lancaster and Chester, Wapentake of West Derby (translating a Latin text), page 31:
      Whereof John de Ditton holds a moiety of the village for half a carve of land.