See more synonyms for carrier on
  1. a person or thing that carries.
  2. an employee of the post office who carries mail.
  3. a person who delivers newspapers, magazines, etc., on a particular route.
  4. Transportation.
    1. an individual or company, as a railroad or steamship line, engaged in transporting passengers or goods for profit.
    2. common carrier.
  5. Insurance. a company that acts or functions as an underwriter or insurer.
  6. a frame, usually of metal, attached to a vehicle for carrying skis, luggage, etc., as on top of an automobile or station wagon; rack.
  7. aircraft carrier.
  8. Immunology. an individual harboring specific pathogenic organisms who, though often immune to the agent harbored, may transmit the disease to others.
  9. Genetics.
    1. an individual possessing an unexpressed, recessive trait.
    2. the bearer of a defective gene.
  10. Also called carrier wave. Radio. the wave whose amplitude, frequency, or phase is to be varied or modulated to transmit a signal.
  11. Machinery. a mechanism by which something is carried or moved.
  12. Chemistry. a catalytic agent that brings about a transfer of an element or group of atoms from one compound to another.
  13. Also called charge carrier. Physics. any of the mobile electrons or holes in a metal or semiconductor that enable it to conduct electrical charge.
  14. Physical Chemistry. a usually inactive substance that acts as a vehicle for an active substance.
  15. carrier pigeon.
  16. Painting. base1(def 15b).

Origin of carrier

Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400; see origin at carry, -er1
Related formsin·ter·car·ri·er, nounnon·car·ri·er, nounsu·per·car·ri·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for carrier

shipper, warship, transporter, messenger, bearer, courier, flattop

Examples from the Web for carrier

Contemporary Examples of carrier

Historical Examples of carrier

  • The question was asked in a mild way as if he intended to help the carrier's memory.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • I desired the carrier to pay you, but as I mentioned only 15s.

  • The carrier with whom I bargained did not take me; I fell out with him.

    Albert Durer

    T. Sturge Moore

  • Those who did do it had fled, and, as the carrier had recognized him as in the party, he had been arrested.

    The First Violin

    Jessie Fothergill

  • One of them slipped up behind the carrier, and knocked him from his horse.

    The First Violin

    Jessie Fothergill

British Dictionary definitions for carrier


  1. a person, thing, or organization employed to carry goods, passengers, etc
  2. a mechanism by which something is carried or moved, such as a device for transmitting rotation from the faceplate of a lathe to the workpiece
  3. pathol another name for vector (def. 3)
  4. pathol a person or animal that, without having any symptoms of a disease, is capable of transmitting it to others
  5. Also called: charge carrier physics an electron, ion, or hole that carries the charge in a conductor or semiconductor
  6. short for carrier wave
  7. chem
    1. the inert solid on which a dyestuff is adsorbed in forming a lake
    2. a substance, such as kieselguhr or asbestos, used to support a catalyst
    3. an inactive substance containing a radioisotope used in radioactive tracing
    4. an inert gas used to transport the sample through a gas-chromatography column
    5. a catalyst that effects the transfer of an atom or group from one molecule to another
  8. See aircraft carrier
  9. a breed of domestic fancy pigeon having a large walnut-shaped wattle over the beak; a distinct variety of pigeon from the homing or carrier pigeonSee also carrier pigeon
  10. a US name for roof rack


  1. a member of an Athapaskan Native North American people of British Columbia
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 carrier

late 14c., agent noun from carry (v.). Meaning "person or animal that carries and disseminates infection without suffering obvious disease" is from 1899; genetic sense is 1933. As a short form of aircraft carrier it dates from 1917. Carrier pigeon is from 1640s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

carrier in Medicine


  1. A person or an animal that shows no symptoms of a disease but harbors the infectious agent of that disease and is capable of transmitting it to others.
  2. A compound capable of transferring a hydrogen atom from one compound to another.
  3. A quantity of naturally occurring element added to a minute amount of pure isotope, especially a radioactive one, to facilitate the chemical handling of the isotope.
  4. An individual that carries, but does not express, a gene for a particular recessive trait, yet when mated with another carrier, can produce offspring that do.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

carrier in Science


  1. A person, animal, or plant that serves as a host for a pathogen and can transmit it to others, but is immune to it. Mosquitoes are carriers of malaria.
  2. An organism that carries a gene for a trait but does not show the trait itself. Carriers can produce offspring that express the trait by mating with another carrier of the same gene. See more at recessive.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.