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ca·​rouse kə-ˈrau̇z How to pronounce carouse (audio)
caroused; carousing

intransitive verb

: to drink liquor freely or excessively
: to take part in a carouse : engage in dissolute behavior

transitive verb

obsolete : to drink up : quaff
carouser noun


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: a drunken revel
archaic : a large draft of liquor

Did you know?

Sixteenth-century English revelers toasting each other's health sometimes drank a brimming mug of booze straight to the bottom—drinking an "all-out," they called it. German tipplers did the same and used the German expression for "all out"—gar aus. The French adopted the German term as carous, using the adverb in their expression boire carous ("to drink all out"). That phrase, with its idiomatic sense of "to empty the cup," led to carrousse, a French noun meaning "a large draft of liquor." And that's where English speakers picked up carouse in the 1500s, using it first as a direct borrowing of the French noun, which later took on the sense of a general "drunken revel," and then as a verb meaning "to drink freely." The verb later developed the "rowdy partying" use familiar to us today.

Example Sentences

Verb My brother and his friends went out carousing last night. spent all of shore leave carousing with his mates Noun the Old West custom of heading to the saloon at night for an all-out carouse and some poker playing
Recent Examples on the Web
Commuting, camping, conveying, cruising, carousing: With such a car, everyone feels ready for everything. Pete Lyons, Car and Driver, 11 Mar. 2023 This involves taking a trip to Paris and immersing himself in genealogical tomes in the Bibliothèque nationale, and then heading to Brest on the Atlantic coast to meet and carouse with the descendants of people whom Kerouac’s family knew centuries ago. Michael Washburn, National Review, 12 Mar. 2022 Children carouse their neighborhoods demanding sugary treats. Amber Dance, Discover Magazine, 29 Oct. 2018 Many of the legions who dressed fantastically, scantily, or both treated the festival as, well, a festival—a reason to carouse. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 27 Apr. 2022 Pushkin, however, focused on a single scene, in which a group of youngsters carouse in a spontaneous street party and toast a deceased friend. The Economist, 4 June 2020 Hanging out with these carefree kids—riding in cars with them, eating fast food with them, carousing at the moontower with them, watching the sun come up with them—is pretty close to hanging out with your own friends. Wired Staff, Wired, 10 May 2020 There’s also the matter of political conventions, the events that bring together thousands of party members for days of unity, rallying and carousing to be capped off with iconic images of balloons dropping on giddy delegates. Dionne Searcey, New York Times, 21 Mar. 2020 Artists were photographed wearing banker suits and smoking Montecristos, strove to be featured in ads for Absolut Vodka, caroused with real estate magnates and deep-pocketed promoters with unplaceable accents. Luc Sante, The New York Review of Books, 24 Mar. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'carouse.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle French carrousse, from carous, adverb, all out (in boire carous to empty the cup), from German gar aus

First Known Use


1566, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1559, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of carouse was in 1559


Dictionary Entries Near carouse

Cite this Entry

“Carouse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a drunken merrymaking
carouse verb
carouser noun

More from Merriam-Webster on carouse

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