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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-West Germanic *farjan, 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), Old Norse ferja. Related to fare.



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

  1. (transitive) To carry; transport; convey.
    Trucks plowed through the water to ferry flood victims to safety.
    • 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”, in 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.


The Staten Island Ferry

ferry (plural ferries)

  1. A ship used to transport people, smaller vehicles and goods from one port to another, usually on a regular schedule.
    • 2019 November 22, Ilaria Maria Sala, “After the Protests: How Will Hong Kong Vote?”, in The New York Times[1], →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 2019-11-22, Opinion‎[2]:
      To reach Mui Wo, a small town on Lantau Island, you take a ferry from central Hong Kong, and after a 30-minute ride arrive at a small square with a car park and bus stops blackened by fumes.
  2. A place where passengers are transported across water in such a ship.
  3. The legal right or franchise that entitles a corporate body or an individual to operate such a service.
    (Can we add an example for this sense?)

Derived terms[edit]

Terms derived from ferry (noun)



See also[edit]




Borrowed from English ferry.



ferry m (plural ferries or ferrys)

  1. ferry

Derived terms[edit]



Unadapted borrowing from English ferry.[1][2]



ferry m (plural ferries)

  1. ferry (boat)


  1. ^ ferry” in Dicionário infopédia da Língua Portuguesa. Porto: Porto Editora, 2003–2023.
  2. ^ ferry” in Dicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa.



Unadapted borrowing from English ferry.


  • IPA(key): /ˈferi/ [ˈfe.ri]
  • Rhymes: -eri
  • Syllabification: fe‧rry


ferry m (plural ferrys or ferries)

  1. Alternative spelling of ferri

Usage notes[edit]

According to Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) prescriptions, unadapted foreign words should be written in italics in a text printed in roman type, and vice versa, and in quotation marks in a manuscript text or when italics are not available. In practice, this RAE prescription is not always followed.

Further reading[edit]