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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for carry-on

Synonyms: Noun

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

Synonyms: Verb

act out, act up, misbehave

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

The same can be said for Men in Black: International, Columbia's failed attempt to carry on one of its flagship series without stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "Has Disney Cornered the Family Film Market as Rivals Hit Summer Slumps?," 15 Aug. 2019 O’Reilly could find carries on offense, especially if one of the other backs gets hurt, and figures to help on special teams as well. Alex Putterman,, "Back from ACL injury, former UConn football walk-on Donevin O’Reilly hopes to give underdog story a happy ending," 13 Aug. 2019 But — and how appropriate was this the way things went in the 27-0 loss? — Washington got one more carry on the final drive. San Diego Union-Tribune, "5 questions with ... Aztecs RB Juwan Washington," 2 Aug. 2019 After Douridas’ departure eight years later, British expat Nic Harcourt, whose arrival from a Woodstock, N.Y., radio station was the result of a national search, carried on until just before Bentley’s reign began. Randall Roberts,, "KCRW mainstay Jason Bentley to step down as ‘Morning Becomes Eclectic’ host," 13 June 2019 The two sides were engaged in a furious shouting match, carried on through a half-dozen languages. Matthew Wolfe, Harper's magazine, "Without a Trace," 10 Feb. 2019 Researchers investigated how microbial life can be transported in the Atacama Desert and found that it could be easily carried on dust particles by wind. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Atacama Desert offers clues about life on Mars," 22 Aug. 2019 The airport funnels more freight by volume than any other airport, and while air freighters were able to take off last night, a lot of cargo is typically carried on passenger planes, according to the Guardian. Mary Hui, Quartz, "Photos: Hong Kong protesters took over the city’s airport," 13 Aug. 2019 Even so, how many of us would shoulder a light pack and head out for a 100-mile jaunt with no support other than what was carried on your back? John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska’s early explorers were tough buzzards when it came to traveling and camping," 6 Aug. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about carry-on

Statistics for carry-on

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for carry-on

The first known use of carry-on was in 1600

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for carry-on



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

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).


recurring in steady succession

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!