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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.
to wear, hold, or have around one:
He carries his knife in his pocket. He carries a cane.
to contain or be capable of containing; hold:
The suitcase will carry enough clothes for a week.
to serve as an agency or medium for the transmission of:
The wind carried the sound. He carried the message to me.
to be the means of conveying or transporting (something or someone):
The wind carried the balloon out of sight.
to be pregnant with:
His wife is carrying twins.
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.
to bear the weight, burden, etc., of; sustain:
These piers once carried an arch.
to take (a leading or guiding part), as in singing; bear or sustain (a part or melody).
to hold (the body, head, etc.) in a certain manner:
She carries her head high.
to behave or comport (oneself):
She carries herself with decorum.
to take the initiative in (a contest):
The Giants carried the game to the Browns.
to secure the adoption of (a motion or bill).
to get a plurality or majority of electoral votes in (a district).
to extend or continue in a given direction or to a certain point:
to carry the war into enemy territory.
to bring, impart, hear, transmit, or communicate news, a message, etc.
to lead or influence by emotional or intellectual appeal:
The actor carried his audience with him.
to bear the major burden of (a group, performance, etc.) by superior talent, determination, etc.:
The star carried the whole play.
to serve as a conduit for:
This pipe carries water to the house.
to have as an attribute, property, consequence, etc.; presume or entail:
Violation carries a penalty of five years in prison.
to support or give validity to (a related claim, argument, etc.):
One decision carries another.

to keep on hand or in stock.
to keep on the account books.

to bear as a crop:
This land will not carry corn.
to sustain or support:
Our grain supply will carry the cattle through the winter. This money will carry us for about a week.
to be enrolled for or to undertake as an amount of work:
New students are advised not to carry more than 16 credits.
Golf. to advance beyond or go by (an object or expanse) with one stroke.
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.
Hunting. to retain and pursue (a scent).
(in addition) to transfer (a number) from one denomination to the succeeding one.
to have as a maximum working pressure:
This boiler carries 190 pounds per square inch.
to act as a bearer or conductor.
to have or exert propelling force.
to be transmitted, propelled, or sustained:
My voice carries farther than his.
(of a horse) to bear the head in a particular manner while in action:
The horse carries well.
range, as of a gun.
Golf. the distance a stroked ball travels.
land that separates navigable waters and over which a canoe or boat must be carried; portage.
a carrying.
carry away,

to influence greatly or unreasonably, especially emotionally; excite; transport:
The spectators were carried away by the appeal to their patriotism.
Nautical. (of the wind or sea) to dislodge or send overboard.
Nautical. (of a vessel) to lose (an object or objects) through breakage.
Nautical. (of a rope or chain) to break under strain.

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.
carry forward,

to make progress with.
Bookkeeping. to transfer (an amount) to the next page, column, or book.
Accounting. to apply (an unused credit or operating loss) to the net income of a succeeding period in order to reduce the tax for that period.

carry off,

to win (a prize, honor, etc.).
to cause the death of:
The Black Plague in the Middle Ages carried off more than one-fourth of the population of Europe.

carry on,

to manage; conduct.
to continue without stopping:
Rescue operations were carried on in spite of the storm.
to continue to live, work, etc., despite a setback or tragedy; persevere.
Informal. to behave in an agitated, foolish, or indiscreet manner.
to misbehave or be disruptive; act up.
Nautical. to proceed under excessive sail for the weather conditions.

carry out,

to put into operation; execute:
He doesn’t have the funds to carry out his design.
to effect or accomplish; complete:
They carried out their plan without incident.

carry over,

to hold until a later time; postpone.
to be left; remain.
Bookkeeping. to transfer (an amount) to the next page, column, or book.
Accounting. to apply (an unused credit or operating loss) to the net income of a succeeding period in order to reduce the tax for that period.
to extend from one activity or time to another:
He does not carry over his business ethics into his personal relationships.

carry through,

to accomplish; complete.
to support or help through a difficult situation.
to continue or be prevalent in; persist:
a theme that carried through all his writing.

carry all before one, to be highly successful:
In his academic and social life he carried all before him.
carry a tune, to sing a melody accurately or on key.
carry it off, Informal. to succeed in an action, endeavor, or scheme.
carry the can. can2 (def 15).
carry the day, to win the contest or be triumphant; prevail. The Republicans carried the day.
carry too far, to exceed the limits of; go to excess with:
She is carrying her crusading too far.
Contemporary Examples

And after carrying the second set 6-4, Oudin began to believe them.
A Victory for Georgia Mojo Paul Begala September 2, 2009

One day a new rotation of soldiers arrives, carrying a deadly bacteria never before seen in the U. S.
United Nations Still Denies its Troops Brought Cholera to Haiti Jonathan M. Katz April 3, 2012

The Guard will concentrate its resources on carrying out this limited mission.
Can the National Guard Really Help Calm an Already Militarized Ferguson? Jacob Siegel August 18, 2014

Living in a poor neighborhood, she and her boys took to carrying pieces of lead pipes in their pockets in case anyone mugged them.
Oprah Disses a Civil-Rights Icon David Margolick October 27, 2011

Fortunately, by then he was in England carrying a steno pad, not in Tunisia hauling a howitzer.
The Story of the American Journalists Who Landed on D-Day Timothy M. Gay June 5, 2012

Historical Examples

They followed at a little dogtrot, carrying their loads easily.
The Leopard Woman Stewart Edward White

Eucoline, the daughter of Agatho, attended me, carrying a lighted torch.
Philothea Lydia Maria Child

The ant at last met one of his companions, who was also carrying a burden.
The Industries of Animals Frdric Houssay

Orderlies were going about, carrying out linens, emptying pans.
K Mary Roberts Rinehart

He retreated, carrying with him the best arms he could select for the use of his general.
The Hour and the Man Harriet Martineau

verb (mainly transitive) -ries, -rying, -ried
(also intransitive) to take or bear (something) from one place to another: to carry a baby in one’s arms
to transfer for consideration; take: he carried his complaints to her superior
to have on one’s person: he always carries a watch
(also intransitive) to be transmitted or serve as a medium for transmitting: sound carries best over water
to contain or be capable of containing: the jug carries water
to bear or be able to bear the weight, pressure, or responsibility of: her efforts carry the whole production
to have as an attribute or result: this crime carries a heavy penalty
to bring or communicate: to carry news
(also intransitive) to be pregnant with (young): she is carrying her third child
to bear (the head, body, etc) in a specified manner: she carried her head high
to conduct or bear (oneself) in a specified manner: she carried herself well in a difficult situation
to continue or extend: the war was carried into enemy territory
to cause to move or go: desire for riches carried him to the city
to influence, esp by emotional appeal: his words carried the crowd
to secure the passage of (a bill, motion, etc)
to win (an election)
to obtain victory for (a candidate or measure) in an election
(mainly US) to win a plurality or majority of votes in (a district, legislative body, etc): the candidate carried 40 states
to capture: our troops carried the town
(of communications media) to include as the content: this newspaper carries no book reviews
(accounting) to transfer (an item) to another account, esp to transfer to the following year’s account instead of writing off against profit and loss: to carry a loss Also (esp US) carry over
(maths) to transfer (a number) from one column of figures to the next, as from units to tens in multiplication and addition
(of a shop, trader, etc) to keep in stock: to carry confectionery
to support (a musical part or melody) against the other parts
to sustain (livestock): this land will carry twelve ewes to the acre
to maintain (livestock) in good health but without increasing their weight or obtaining any products from them
(intransitive) (of a ball, projectile, etc) to travel through the air or reach a specified point: his first drive carried to the green
(sport) especially (golf) (of a ball) to travel beyond: the drive carried the trees
(intransitive) (of a gun) to have a range as specified: this rifle carries for 1200 yards
to retain contact with and pursue (a line of scent)
(intransitive) (of ground) to be in such a condition that scent lies well upon it
(hockey:Ice) to move (the puck) forwards, keeping it against the blade of the stick
(informal) to imbibe (alcoholic drink) without showing ill effects
(intransitive) (slang) to have drugs on one’s person
carry all before one, to win unanimous support or approval for oneself
carry a tune, to be able to sing in tune
(informal) carry the can, to take the responsibility for some misdemeanour, etc (on behalf of)
carry the day, to win a contest or competition; succeed
noun (pl) -ries
the act of carrying
(US & Canadian) a portion of land over which a boat must be portaged
the range of a firearm or its projectile
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

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.

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


Armed, esp with a pistol: He carrying, Mr Esteva (1950s+)
Having narcotics on one’s person (1920s+ Narcotics)

Related Terms



To have narcotics on one’s person (1920s+ Narcotics)
To be armed (1950s+ Underworld)

[fr the 1920s phrase carry iron, ”to be armed”]

carry a torch for
carry a tune
carry away
carry coals to Newcastle
carry forward
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


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  • Carrying-charge

    a charge made for carrying an account, usually computed as a percentage of the principal owed. cost incurred while an asset is unproductive. noun the opportunity cost of unproductive assets, such as goods stored in a warehouse Interest charged on the balance owed when paying on an installment plan, as in What is the carrying […]

  • Carrying-on

    irresponsible, irritating, self-indulgent, or overwrought behavior: The baby-sitter was exhausted from the child’s noisy carrying-on. improper or immoral behavior. Historical Examples What’s all this we hear about your carrying-on this morning? Air Service Boys Flying for Victory Charles Amory Beach There was a newly-married couple in our car, and of course lots of us were […]

  • Carrying-place

    portage (def 3). Historical Examples According to their information, we should find their friends above and below the carrying-place. Voyages from Montreal Through the Continent of North America to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans in 1789 and 1793 Alexander Mackenzie We then moved from the north end of the glades, and encamped at the carrying-place. […]

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