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 The average complaint rate for 17 carriers including regional airlines was 5.48 per 100,000 passengers boarded. Dawn Gilbertson, USA TODAY, "Airline complaints quadrupled in March: United saw biggest spike among US carriers," 20 May 2020 The General Data Protection Regulation in Europe, and the California Consumer Privacy Act both include heavy penalties for data breaches, for instance, which has driven demand for coverage and created exposures for carriers. James Rundle, WSJ, "Cyber Insurers Get Tough on Risk Assessments Amid Coronavirus Pandemic," 18 May 2020 For the Japanese carriers, and other airlines across the globe, the pandemic has been brutal. Nao Sano,, "Cabs Ferry $300 Steaks, Boxes Use Plane Seats in Virus-Hit Japan," 12 May 2020 Since mid-March, demand for air travel in the U.S. has fallen 96%, leaving domestic flights carrying an average of only 15 to 20 passengers, according to Airlines for America, the trade group for the country’s carriers. Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times, "Major U.S. airlines will require masks to slow coronavirus spread," 1 May 2020 In fact, for probable coronavirus carriers, stepping outside the front door was out of the question. Belinda Luscombe, Time, "I Thought I Could Handle Anything. Then My Husband Got Sick," 29 Apr. 2020 The bypass mail segment is a unique piece of the puzzle for rural air carriers. Scott Mcmurren, Anchorage Daily News, "Mail and freight keep Alaska air carriers on life support during pandemic," 25 Apr. 2020 Delta Air Lines is the first airline to report first quarter results Wednesday morning in what promises to be a miserable quarter for carriers. Julia Horowitz, CNN, "Even Netflix is worried about what comes next," 22 Apr. 2020 The Federal Aviation Administration revised the guidelines Thursday in response to requests from Airlines for America, the lobbying group for major carriers., "JetBlue suspending flights from Worcester, Providence," 10 Apr. 2020

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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Time Traveler for carrier

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for carrier

Last Updated

27 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Carrier.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for carrier


How to pronounce carrier (audio)

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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