car·​ri·​er | \ ˈker-ē-ər How to pronounce carrier (audio) , 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

Every ship that clears from a foreign port, and every mailbag from overseas, is a potential carrier of contraband. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "Rewind: What Guarding Uncle Sam's Borders Was Like in 1925," 11 Feb. 2019 Other low-cost carriers such as Primera Air and Germania also have bitten the dust in recent months. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Are the Discount Airlines Doomed?," 29 Mar. 2019 Icelandic low-cost carrier WOW Air, which specialized in linking cities in the U.S. with European destinations, has collapsed, adding to a string of airlines overseas that have faltered in recent months amid stiff competition and rising costs. Robert Wall, WSJ, "WOW Air Flights Canceled as Budget Airline Collapses," 28 Mar. 2019 Both companies were barred from US government use as part of a defense bill earlier this year, sending a strong message to carriers. Russell Brandom, The Verge, "New Trump order may officially ban Huawei and ZTE from 5G rollout, per report," 27 Dec. 2018 But after 9/11, airlines lost money, and staffing cuts led to carriers only staffing the minimum. Aditi Shrikant, Vox, "Why airlines make you check your carry-on bags," 20 Dec. 2018 The Navy compares the Ghost Fleet Effort to its effort to get unmanned aerial vehicles operating off the flight decks of U.S. Navy carriers. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Navy Wants To Build a “Ghost Fleet” of Drone Warships," 14 Mar. 2019 The crash of a popular Boeing Co. airliner Sunday marks a major setback for Ethiopian Airlines and the plane maker, which has relied on the success of emerging-market carriers to fuel its growth in recent years. Andrew Tangel, WSJ, "Ethiopian Crash Carries High Stakes for Boeing, Growing African Airline," 10 Mar. 2019 The Navy said in a statement that during the Reagan’s visit, interactions will take place with Hong Kong citizens through sports, community relations projects and tours of the carrier. Alice Fung, The Seattle Times, "US carrier in Hong Kong after bombers fly over S. China Sea," 21 Nov. 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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Statistics for carrier

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

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

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More Definitions for carrier



English Language Learners Definition of carrier

: a container used to move something from one place to another
: a company that moves people or goods from one place to another
: a person or animal that can give a disease or a gene to others but is not affected by it


car·​ri·​er | \ ˈker-ē-ər How to pronounce carrier (audio) \

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 How to pronounce carrier (audio) \

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 entry 1 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

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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 move or proceed with twists and turns

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