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From Middle English miscarien, equivalent to mis- +‎ carry.


  • (US, UK) IPA(key): /ˌmɪsˈkæɹi/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æɹi


miscarry (third-person singular simple present miscarries, present participle miscarrying, simple past and past participle miscarried)

  1. (obsolete) To have an unfortunate accident of some kind; to be killed, or come to harm. [14th–18th c.]
  2. (now rare) To go astray; to do something wrong. [from 14th c.]
  3. To have a miscarriage; to involuntarily abort a foetus. [from 16th c.]
  4. To fail to achieve some purpose; to be unsuccessful, to go wrong (of a business, project etc.). [from 16th c.]
    • 1730, Jonathan Swift, “Death And Daphne,”, in Some Verse Pieces:
      Pluto observing, since the Peace,
      The Burial Article decrease;
      And, vext to see Affairs miscarry,
      Declar'd in Council, Death must marry []
  5. Of a letter etc.: to fail to reach its intended recipient. [from 16th c.]
    • c. 1595–1596 (date written), William Shakespeare, “Loues Labour’s Lost”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, (please specify the act number in uppercase Roman numerals, and the scene number in lowercase Roman numerals):
      Sir Nathaniel, this Biron is one of the votaries with the king; and here he hath framed a letter to a sequent of the stranger queen's, which accidentally, or by the way of progression, hath miscarried.
    • 1817 December 31 (indicated as 1818), [Walter Scott], chapter 1, in Rob Roy. [], volume II, Edinburgh: [] James Ballantyne and Co. for Archibald Constable and Co. []; London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, →OCLC:
      It likewise alluded to several letters—which, it appeared to me, must have miscarried or been intercepted [] .
    • 1842, [Katherine] Thomson, chapter VII, in Widows and Widowers. A Romance of Real Life., volume II, London: Richard Bentley, [], →OCLC, page 144:
      Since the luckless Friday morning he had neither been seen nor heard of; day after day, Adeline had trusted to receive a letter, but in those times posts were slow and uncertain, messengers and couriers were often employed instead; and the hope might reasonably be clung to of a letter having miscarried.

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