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

What’s more, O’Donnell will be carrying on a Texas tradition started by Walter Cronkite and now shared by four of his successors at CBS. Jeanne Jakle,, "Norah O’Donnell takes over CBS Evening News on a historic week," 10 July 2019 More so than anything else, the character is just carrying on the tradition of Mary Jane and the place she's held in Peter’s heart in other iterations, but honestly, those might be the most important things, especially in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Rachel Paige,, "Spider-Man, Zendaya, & The Mary Jane Of It All," 5 July 2019 Zoom Technologies is carrying on a long American tradition: making people rich by accident. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "Striking It Rich With Tech-Stock Doppelgängers," 2 July 2019 The third generation is now carrying on Fazio’s legacy. Linda Zavoral, The Mercury News, "After 22 years, Mary’s Pizza Shack closes in Walnut Creek," 24 June 2019 At the reunions, the women are always carrying on about owning it. Jessica Knoll, Time, "Jessica Knoll's New Book, The Favorite Sister, Explores Ambition and Motherhood," 31 May 2018 In line with its constitutional duties, the state legislature is carrying on a process to elect a temporary replacement. Jen Kirby, Vox, "New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned. What’s next?," 9 May 2018 But a longtime employee, Shelia Shields, is carrying on the tradition. Joyce Smith, kansascity, "Longtime employee carries on the Mario's tradition in Westport | The Kansas City Star," 1 Mar. 2018 His family and friends will deeply miss him and pledge to carry on his legacy. J.k. Dineen,, "Billionaire philanthropist Kenneth Behring, who built Blackhawk, dead at 91," 27 June 2019

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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Statistics for carry-on

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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 complain fretfully

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