car·​ry-on | \ ˈker-ē-ˌȯn How to pronounce carry-on (audio) , ˈka-rē-, -ˌän\

Definition of carry-on

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 British : carrying-on
2 : a piece of luggage suitable for being carried aboard an airplane by a passenger



Definition of carry-on (Entry 2 of 3)

: carried or suitable for being carried aboard carry-on baggage

carry on

carried on; carrying on; carries on

Definition of carry on (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

: to continue doing, pursuing, or operating carry on research carried on the business

intransitive verb

1 : to continue especially in spite of hindrance or discouragement chose to carry on despite the weather
2 : to behave or speak in a foolish, excited, or improper manner shocked at how he carries on

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Synonyms for carry-on

Synonyms: Noun

carryall, grip, handbag, holdall [chiefly British], portmanteau, suitcase, traveling bag, wallet

Synonyms: Verb

act out, act up, misbehave

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Examples of carry-on in a Sentence


a toddler crying and carrying on in the store she bravely carried on despite the loss of her husband

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Anspach is proud of his work in introducing the program, which will be carried on by others. Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Marquette law school grad makes most of a second chance after drug and alcohol dependence," 18 May 2018 In the northern Bosnian village of Kiseljak, St. George rituals are carried on by the Ahmetovic family, members of Roma community of about 3,000 with Muslim, Catholic and Orthodox members that has inhabited the area for the past 50 years. Washington Post, "AP PHOTOS: Bosnian Roma celebrate St. George’s Day," 12 May 2018 Think about the Southern Strategy of the Republican Party as fomented by Nixon, carried on by Reagan, and now reenacted with President Donald Trump. Mitch Landrieu, Time, "New Orleans Mayor: America Is Stuck 'In a Mentality Where They Could Lynch You'," 19 Mar. 2018 There is, of course, another factor in the number of carry-ons on flights: Airlines charge for checked bags, so more customers may be opting to carry on their luggage. Aditi Shrikant, Vox, "Why airlines make you check your carry-on bags," 20 Dec. 2018 And the fires continue to happen—on August 1, a Ryanair flight from Spain to New York evacuated after a carry on laptop ignited. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "No One is Fixing Flying's Fire Problem," 3 Aug. 2018 After filling in your name and contact information, you're prompted to purchase a package that includes a checked bag or a full-size carry on, for $25 or $35. Scott Mcmurren, Anchorage Daily News, "Planning a big trip? Here are websites that can help you keep costs down," 21 Apr. 2018 Traditional ballistic missiles boost their warheads into space, where they are carried on ballistic trajectories calculated to end at their targets. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "China: Our Hypersonic Missiles Can Sink U.S. Aircraft Carriers," 23 Jan. 2019 In fact, Terri, Bindi, and Robert are carrying on the Crocodile Hunter's legacy with their own show on Animal Planet—the network that started it all. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "Bindi Irwin Reflects on Life Without Dad Steve: 'It’s Like Losing a Part of Your Heart'," 27 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'carry-on.' 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 carry-on


1890, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1967, in the meaning defined above


1600, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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Time Traveler for carry-on

The first known use of carry-on was in 1600

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English Language Learners Definition of carry-on

 (Entry 1 of 2)

US : a small piece of luggage that a passenger can carry onto an airplane
British, informal : a moment of excitement or silly behavior



English Language Learners Definition of carry-on (Entry 2 of 2)

: small enough to be carried onto an airplane by a passenger

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More from Merriam-Webster on carry-on

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with carry-on

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for carry-on

Britannica English: Translation of carry-on for Arabic Speakers

Comments on carry-on

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


to affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

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