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From Middle English ferien (to carry, convey, convey in a boat), from Old English ferian (to carry, convey, bear, bring, lead, conduct, betake oneself to, be versed in, depart, go), from Proto-Germanic *farjaną (to make or let go, transfer, ferry), from Proto-Indo-European *per- (to bring or carry over, transfer, pass through). Cognate with German dialectal feren, fähren (to row, sail), Danish færge (to ferry), Swedish färja (to ferry), Icelandic ferja (to ferry). Related to fare.


ferry (plural ferries)

  1. A ship used to transport people, smaller vehicles and goods from one port to another, usually on a regular schedule.
  2. A place where passengers are transported across water in such a ship.
    • Milton
      It can pass the ferry backward into light.
    • Campbell
      to row me o'er the ferry
    • around 1900, O. Henry, The Ferry of Unfulfilment
      She walked into the waiting-room of the ferry, and up the stairs, and by a marvellous swift, little run, caught the ferry-boat that was just going out.
  3. The legal right or franchise that entitles a corporate body or an individual to operate such a service.

Derived terms[edit]




ferry (third-person singular simple present ferries, present participle ferrying, simple past and past participle ferried)

  1. (transitive) To carry; transport; convey.
    • 2007, Rick Bass, The Lives of Rocks:
      We ferried our stock in U-Haul trailers, and across the months, as we purchased more cowflesh from the Goat Man — meat vanishing into the ether again and again, as if into some quarkish void — we became familiar enough with Sloat and his daughter to learn that her name was Flozelle, and to visit with them about matters other than stock.
  2. (transitive) To move someone or something from one place to another, usually repeatedly.
    • 2013 June 1, “Ideas coming down the track”, The Economist, volume 407, number 8838, page 13 (Technology Quarterly): 
      A “moving platform” scheme [] is more technologically ambitious than maglev trains even though it relies on conventional rails. Local trains would use side-by-side rails to roll alongside intercity trains and allow passengers to switch trains by stepping through docking bays. [] This would also let high-speed trains skirt cities as moving platforms ferry passengers to and from the city centre.
    Being a good waiter takes more than the ability to ferry plates of food around a restaurant.
  3. (transitive) To carry or transport over a contracted body of water, as a river or strait, in a boat or other floating conveyance plying between opposite shores.
  4. (intransitive) To pass over water in a boat or by ferry.
    • Milton
      They ferry over this Lethean sound / Both to and fro.

See also[edit]




Borrowing from English ferry.


ferry m (plural ferries or ferrys)

  1. ferry

Derived terms[edit]