\ ˈkärp How to pronounce carp (audio) \
carped; carping; carps

Definition of carp

 (Entry 1 of 5)

intransitive verb

: to find fault or complain querulously


noun (1)

Definition of carp (Entry 2 of 5)


noun (2)
plural carp or carps

Definition of carp (Entry 3 of 5)

1 : a large variable Asian soft-finned freshwater cyprinid fish (Cyprinus carpio) of sluggish waters that is often raised for food and has been widely introduced into U.S. waters also : any of various related cyprinid fishes (such as the grass carp)
2 : a fish (such as the European sea bream) resembling a carp
variants: or carpo-

Definition of carp- (Entry 4 of 5)

: fruit carpogonium

Definition of -carp (Entry 5 of 5)

: part of a fruit mesocarp : fruit schizocarp

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Other Words from carp


carper noun

Did you know?


You might guess that the verb carp word is a descendant of the noun referring to a type of fish. That's a reasonable speculation, but the verb actually preceded the fish's name into the English language by approximately a century. Its origins are Scandinavian: it may be related to the Icelandic verb karpa, meaning "to dispute" or "to wrangle," and beyond that perhaps to Old Norse karp, meaning "boasting" or "arrogance." In the early 20th century, English speakers also coined a second noun carp (meaning "complaint") from this verb.

Examples of carp in a Sentence

Verb He's always carping about his boss. He's tired of always being carped at by his critics.

First Known Use of carp


15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for carp


Middle English, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Icelandic karpa to dispute

Noun (2)

Middle English carpe, from Middle French, from Late Latin carpa, probably of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German karpfo carp

Combining form

French & New Latin, from Greek karp-, karpo-, from karpos — more at harvest

Noun combining form

New Latin -carpium, from Greek -karpion, from karpos

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Time Traveler for carp

Time Traveler

The first known use of carp was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Carp.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for carp



English Language Learners Definition of carp

: to complain in an annoying way


\ ˈkärp How to pronounce carp (audio) \
carped; carping

Kids Definition of carp

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to complain in an annoying way



Kids Definition of carp (Entry 2 of 2)

: a freshwater fish that lives a long time and is often used for food

More from Merriam-Webster on carp

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for carp

Nglish: Translation of carp for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about carp


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