verb (used without object)

to find fault or complain querulously or unreasonably; be niggling in criticizing; cavil: to carp at minor errors.


a peevish complaint.

Origin of carp

1200–50; Middle English carpen to speak, prate < Old Norse karpa to brag, wrangle
Related formscarp·er, noun

Synonyms for carp Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for carper

Contemporary Examples of carper

Historical Examples of carper

  • I damned every Carper into fiddlestrings from old Adam to old Columbus.

    Dwellers in the Hills

    Melville Davisson Post

  • There has never been an age that has not had its carper to tell you of the wonders that once were.

    Pike &amp; Cutlass

    George Gibbs

  • A carper might have said that Eddy was the least bit vague on the subject of the dear old days.

    The Man Upstairs

    P. G. Wodehouse

  • But she was civil even as she sighed, and he would have been a carper who complained.

    The President

    Alfred Henry Lewis

  • After the Carper lease expired without renewal, the caretakers left.

British Dictionary definitions for carper




(intr often foll by at) to complain or find fault; nag pettily
Derived Formscarper, noun

Word Origin for carp

C13: from Old Norse karpa to boast; related to Latin carpere to pluck



noun plural carp or carps

a freshwater teleost food fish, Cyprinus carpio, having a body covered with cycloid scales, a naked head, one long dorsal fin, and two barbels on each side of the mouth: family Cyprinidae
any other fish of the family Cyprinidae; a cyprinid
Related formsRelated adjectives: cyprinid, cyprinoid

Word Origin for carp

C14: from Old French carpe, of Germanic origin; compare Old High German karpfo, Old Norse karfi
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for carper

mid-15c., "talker," agent noun from carp (v.).



type of freshwater fish, late 14c., from Old French carpe "carp" (13c.) and directly from Vulgar Latin carpa (source also of Italian carpa, Spanish carpa), from a Germanic source (cf. Middle Dutch carpe, Dutch karper, Old High German karpfo, German Karpfen "carp"); possibly the immediate source is Gothic *karpa. A Danube fish (hence the proposed East Germanic origin of its name), introduced in English ponds 14c. Lithuanian karpis, Russian karp are Germanic loan words.



"complain," early 13c., originally "to talk," from Old Norse karpa "to brag," of unknown origin; meaning turned toward "find fault with" (late 14c.), probably by influence of Latin carpere "to slander, revile," literally "to pluck" (see harvest (n.)). Related: Carped; carping.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper