verb (used with object), car·ried, car·ry·ing.

  1. to take or support from one place to another; convey; transport: He carried her for a mile in his arms. This elevator cannot carry more than ten people.
  2. to wear, hold, or have around one: He carries his knife in his pocket. He carries a cane.
  3. to contain or be capable of containing; hold: The suitcase will carry enough clothes for a week.
  4. to serve as an agency or medium for the transmission of: The wind carried the sound. He carried the message to me.
  5. to be the means of conveying or transporting (something or someone): The wind carried the balloon out of sight.
  6. to be pregnant with: His wife is carrying twins.
  7. to put ahead to a subsequent time, page, etc., or to a higher authority; continue or transfer: to carry a case to a higher court; to carry a footnote to a new page.
  8. to bear the weight, burden, etc., of; sustain: These piers once carried an arch.
  9. to take (a leading or guiding part), as in singing; bear or sustain (a part or melody).
  10. to hold (the body, head, etc.) in a certain manner: She carries her head high.
  11. to behave or comport (oneself): She carries herself with decorum.
  12. to take the initiative in (a contest): The Giants carried the game to the Browns.
  13. to secure the adoption of (a motion or bill).
  14. to get a plurality or majority of electoral votes in (a district).
  15. to extend or continue in a given direction or to a certain point: to carry the war into enemy territory.
  16. to bring, impart, hear, transmit, or communicate news, a message, etc.
  17. to lead or influence by emotional or intellectual appeal: The actor carried his audience with him.
  18. to bear the major burden of (a group, performance, etc.) by superior talent, determination, etc.: The star carried the whole play.
  19. to serve as a conduit for: This pipe carries water to the house.
  20. to have as an attribute, property, consequence, etc.; presume or entail: Violation carries a penalty of five years in prison.
  21. to support or give validity to (a related claim, argument, etc.): One decision carries another.
  22. Commerce.
    1. to keep on hand or in stock.
    2. to keep on the account books.
  23. to bear as a crop: This land will not carry corn.
  24. to sustain or support: Our grain supply will carry the cattle through the winter. This money will carry us for about a week.
  25. to be enrolled for or to undertake as an amount of work: New students are advised not to carry more than 16 credits.
  26. Golf. to advance beyond or go by (an object or expanse) with one stroke.
  27. Ice Hockey. to cause (a puck) to move forward along the ice and in one’s control by a series of light, short taps with the stick.
  28. Hunting. to retain and pursue (a scent).
  29. (in addition) to transfer (a number) from one denomination to the succeeding one.
  30. to have as a maximum working pressure: This boiler carries 190 pounds per square inch.

verb (used without object), car·ried, car·ry·ing.

  1. to act as a bearer or conductor.
  2. to have or exert propelling force.
  3. to be transmitted, propelled, or sustained: My voice carries farther than his.
  4. (of a horse) to bear the head in a particular manner while in action: The horse carries well.

noun, plural car·ries.

  1. range, as of a gun.
  2. Golf. the distance a stroked ball travels.
  3. land that separates navigable waters and over which a canoe or boat must be carried; portage.
  4. a carrying.

Verb Phrases

  1. carry away,
    1. to influence greatly or unreasonably, especially emotionally; excite; transport: The spectators were carried away by the appeal to their patriotism.
    2. Nautical.(of the wind or sea) to dislodge or send overboard.
    3. Nautical.(of a vessel) to lose (an object or objects) through breakage.
    4. Nautical.(of a rope or chain) to break under strain.
  2. carry back, Accounting. to apply (an unused credit or operating loss) to the net income of a prior period in order to reduce the tax for that period.
  3. carry forward,
    1. to make progress with.
    2. transfer (an amount) to the next page, column, or book.
    3. apply (an unused credit or operating loss) to the net income of a succeeding period in order to reduce the tax for that period.
  4. carry off,
    1. to win (a prize, honor, etc.).
    2. to cause the death of: The Black Plague in the Middle Ages carried off more than one-fourth of the population of Europe.
  5. carry on,
    1. to manage; conduct.
    2. to continue without stopping: Rescue operations were carried on in spite of the storm.
    3. to continue to live, work, etc., despite a setback or tragedy; persevere.
    4. behave in an agitated, foolish, or indiscreet manner.
    5. to misbehave or be disruptive; act up.
    6. proceed under excessive sail for the weather conditions.
  6. carry out,
    1. to put into operation; execute: He doesn’t have the funds to carry out his design.
    2. to effect or accomplish; complete: They carried out their plan without incident.
  7. carry over,
    1. to hold until a later time; postpone.
    2. to be left; remain.
    3. transfer (an amount) to the next page, column, or book.
    4. apply (an unused credit or operating loss) to the net income of a succeeding period in order to reduce the tax for that period.
    5. to extend from one activity or time to another: He does not carry over his business ethics into his personal relationships.
  8. carry through,
    1. to accomplish; complete.
    2. to support or help through a difficult situation.
    3. to continue or be prevalent in; persist: a theme that carried through all his writing.

  1. carry all before one, to be highly successful: In his academic and social life he carried all before him.
  2. carry a tune, to sing a melody accurately or on key.
  3. carry it off, Informal. to succeed in an action, endeavor, or scheme.
  4. carry the can. can2(def 16).
  5. carry the day, to win the contest or be triumphant; prevail. The Republicans carried the day.
  6. carry too far, to exceed the limits of; go to excess with: She is carrying her crusading too far.

verb -ries, -rying or -ried (mainly tr)

  1. (also intr) to take or bear (something) from one place to anotherto carry a baby in one’s arms
  2. to transfer for consideration; takehe carried his complaints to her superior
  3. to have on one’s personhe always carries a watch
  4. (also intr) to be transmitted or serve as a medium for transmittingsound carries best over water
  5. to contain or be capable of containingthe jug carries water
  6. to bear or be able to bear the weight, pressure, or responsibility ofher efforts carry the whole production
  7. to have as an attribute or resultthis crime carries a heavy penalty
  8. to bring or communicateto carry news
  9. (also intr) to be pregnant with (young)she is carrying her third child
  10. to bear (the head, body, etc) in a specified mannershe carried her head high
  11. to conduct or bear (oneself) in a specified mannershe carried herself well in a difficult situation
  12. to continue or extendthe war was carried into enemy territory
  13. to cause to move or godesire for riches carried him to the city
  14. to influence, esp by emotional appealhis words carried the crowd
  15. to secure the passage of (a bill, motion, etc)
  16. to win (an election)
  17. to obtain victory for (a candidate or measure) in an election
  18. mainly US to win a plurality or majority of votes in (a district, legislative body, etc)the candidate carried 40 states
  19. to captureour troops carried the town
  20. (of communications media) to include as the contentthis newspaper carries no book reviews
  21. accounting to transfer (an item) to another account, esp to transfer to the following year’s account instead of writing off against profit and lossto carry a loss Also (esp US): carry over
  22. maths to transfer (a number) from one column of figures to the next, as from units to tens in multiplication and addition
  23. (of a shop, trader, etc) to keep in stockto carry confectionery
  24. to support (a musical part or melody) against the other parts
  25. to sustain (livestock)this land will carry twelve ewes to the acre
  26. to maintain (livestock) in good health but without increasing their weight or obtaining any products from them
  27. (intr) (of a ball, projectile, etc) to travel through the air or reach a specified pointhis first drive carried to the green
  28. sport, esp golf (of a ball) to travel beyondthe drive carried the trees
  29. (intr) (of a gun) to have a range as specifiedthis rifle carries for 1200 yards
  30. to retain contact with and pursue (a line of scent)
  31. (intr) (of ground) to be in such a condition that scent lies well upon it
  32. ice hockey to move (the puck) forwards, keeping it against the blade of the stick
  33. informal to imbibe (alcoholic drink) without showing ill effects
  34. (intr) slang to have drugs on one’s person
  35. carry all before one to win unanimous support or approval for oneself
  36. carry a tune to be able to sing in tune
  37. carry the can informal to take the responsibility for some misdemeanour, etc (on behalf of)
  38. carry the day to win a contest or competition; succeed

noun plural -ries

  1. the act of carrying
  2. US and Canadian a portion of land over which a boat must be portaged
  3. the range of a firearm or its projectile
  4. the distance travelled by a ball, etc, esp (in golf) the distance from where the ball is struck to where it first touches the ground

c.1600, “vehicle for carrying,” from carry (v.). U.S. football sense attested by 1949.


early 14c., from Anglo-French carier “to transport in a vehicle” or Old North French carrier “to cart, carry” (Modern French charrier), from Gallo-Romance *carrizare, from Late Latin carricare, from Latin carrum (see car).

Meaning “take by force” is from 1580s. Sense of “gain victory in an election” is from 1610s. Of sound, “to be heard at a distance” by 1896. Carrying capacity is attested from 1836. Carry on “continue to advance” is from 1640s; carryings-on “questionable doings” is from 1660s. Carry-castle (1590s) was an old descriptive term for an elephant.

In addition to the idioms beginning with carry

  • carry a torch for
  • carry a tune
  • carry away
  • carry coals to Newcastle
  • carry forward
  • carrying charge
  • carry off
  • carry on
  • carry out
  • carry over
  • carry the ball
  • carry the can
  • carry the day
  • carry the torch
  • carry through
  • carry too far
  • carry weight

also see:

  • fetch and carry
  • (carry) off someone’s feet

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