on the water cart, British. wagon(def 14).
    put the cart before the horse, to do or place things in improper order; be illogical.

Origin of cart

before 900; Middle English cart(e), Old English cræt (by metathesis); cognate with Old Norse kartr cart
Related formscart·a·ble, adjectivecart·er, nounun·cart·ed, adjective
Can be confusedcart carte Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for cart off

cart off

cart away or cart out


(tr, adverb) informal to carry or remove brusquely or by force




a heavy open vehicle, usually having two wheels and drawn by horses, used in farming and to transport goods
a light open horse-drawn vehicle having two wheels and springs, for business or pleasure
any small vehicle drawn or pushed by hand, such as a trolley
put the cart before the horse to reverse the usual or natural order of things


(usually tr) to use or draw a cart to convey (goods, etc)to cart groceries
(tr) to carry with effort; haulto cart wood home
Derived Formscartable, adjectivecarter, noun

Word Origin for cart

C13: from Old Norse kartr; related to Old English cræt carriage, Old French carete; see car




radio television short for cartridge (def. 4)


abbreviation for

Championship Auto Racing Teams
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 cart off



"to carry in a cart," late 14c., from cart (n.). Related: Carted; carting.



c.1200, from Old Norse kartr or a similar Scandinavian source, akin to and replacing Old English cræt "cart, wagon, chariot," perhaps originally "body of a cart made of wickerwork, hamper" and related to Middle Dutch cratte "woven mat, hamper," Dutch krat "basket," Old English cradol (see cradle (n.)). To put the cart before the horse in a figurative sense is from 1510s in those words; the image in other words dates to mid-14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with cart off

cart off

Also, cart away. Transport or remove in an unceremonious way, as in The police carted them all off to jail, or We'll call the town to cart away this trash. This term owes its meaning to cart, a humble conveyance compared to a carriage. [Second half of 1800s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with cart

  • cart before the horse, put the
  • cart off

also see:

  • upset the applecart
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.