car·​ri·​er | \ˈker-ē-ər, ˈka-rē-\

Definition of carrier 

1 : one that carries : bearer, messenger

2a : an individual or organization engaged in transporting passengers or goods for hire

b : a transportation line carrying mail between post offices

c : a postal employee who delivers or collects mail

d : one that delivers newspapers

e : an entity (such as a hole or an electron) capable of carrying an electric charge

3a : a container for carrying

b : a device or machine that carries : conveyor

5a : a bearer and transmitter of a causative agent of an infectious disease especially : one who carries the causative agent of a disease systemically but is asymptomatic or immune to it

b : an individual (such as one heterozygous for a recessive trait) having a specified gene that is not expressed or only weakly expressed in its phenotype

6a : a usually inactive accessory substance : vehicle a carrier for a drug or an insecticide

b : a substance (such as a catalyst) by whose agency some element or group is transferred from one compound to another

7a : an electromagnetic wave or alternating current whose modulations are used as communications signals (as in radio, telephonic, or telegraphic transmissions)

b : a telecommunication company

8 : an organization acting as an insurer

Examples of carrier in a Sentence

I put the pet carrier in the car. The airline is the nation's largest carrier. Mosquitoes can be carriers of malaria.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Britain’s largest wireless carrier, BT Group , this week pulled Huawei from its network core, which is used to transfer calls and internet traffic. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Education of Huawei," 6 Dec. 2018 This new logo decorates a line of cups, napkins, and drink carriers, as well as a limited edition line of shirts and hoodies, available at all the brand’s shops in Los Angeles and New York. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "Virgil Abloh’s Next Collaboration Is “Free with Purchase” at Cha Cha Matcha," 6 Dec. 2018 Qualcomm’s job is to provide the capabilities and then let smartphone manufacturers, carriers, and OS providers run with them. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 promises big improvements to AI, performance, and connectivity," 5 Dec. 2018 United and its regional carrier, United Express, operate about 4,600 flights a day to 357 airports across five continents. Alyson Behr, Ars Technica, "More than an auto-pilot, AI charts its course in aviation," 5 Dec. 2018 Qualcomm opened its Snapdragon Technology Summit as a cheerleader, evangelizing the 5G wireless technology that’s rolling out worldwide from chipmakers, carriers, and smartphone makers. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Qualcomm announces Snapdragon 855 mobile chip as it readies for 5G," 4 Dec. 2018 And some carriers, even distilled water, can increase your risk of infection. Jessica Toscano, SELF, "9 Smart Questions to Ask Before Getting a Tattoo," 9 Nov. 2018 The carrier, or what was left of it, anyway, was later towed out of the drydock to a nearby shipyard, the 35th Repair Plant. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Russia’s Hard-Luck Carrier Damaged in Shipyard Accident," 30 Oct. 2018 Caravan Outfitters also offers extras like bike carriers, a Yakima roof box, and a sonar bumper warning system. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Modular camper van sleeps two and hauls gear, asks $37K," 22 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'carrier.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of carrier

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for carrier

The first known use of carrier was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for carrier


car·​ri·​er | \ˈker-ē-ər \

Kids Definition of carrier

1 : a person or thing that carries a mail carrier

2 : a person or business that transports passengers or goods or provides a certain service

3 : a person, animal, or plant that carries disease germs without showing symptoms and passes them on to others


car·​ri·​er | \ˈkar-ē-ər \

Medical Definition of carrier 

1a : a person, animal, or plant that harbors and transmits the causative agent of an infectious disease especially : one who carries the causative agent systemically but is asymptomatic or immune to it a carrier of typhoid fever — compare reservoir sense 2, vector sense 2

b : an individual possessing a specified gene and capable of transmitting it to offspring but not expressing or only weakly expressing its phenotype especially : one that is heterozygous for a recessive factor

2 : a usually inactive substance used in association with an active substance especially for aiding in the application of the active substance: as

a : a support for a catalyst

b : a vehicle serving especially as a diluent (as for an insecticide or a drug)

3 : a substance (as a catalyst) by whose agency some element or group is transferred from one compound to another



Legal Definition of carrier 

1 : an individual or entity engaged in transporting passengers or goods for hire by land, water, or air specifically : common carrier

2 : an insurer that assumes the risks of a policy that it issues to a policyholder

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More from Merriam-Webster on carrier

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with carrier

Spanish Central: Translation of carrier

Nglish: Translation of carrier for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of carrier for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about carrier

Comments on carrier

What made you want to look up carrier? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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