noun, plural fer·ries.
  1. a commercial service with terminals and boats for transporting persons, automobiles, etc., across a river or other comparatively small body of water.
  2. a ferryboat.
  3. a service for flying airplanes over a particular route, especially the delivery of airplanes to an overseas purchaser or base of operations.
  4. the legal right to ferry passengers, cargo, etc., and to charge for the service.
verb (used with object), fer·ried, fer·ry·ing.
  1. to carry or convey back and forth over a fixed route in a boat or plane.
  2. to fly (an airplane) over a particular route, especially for delivery.
verb (used without object), fer·ried, fer·ry·ing.
  1. to go in a ferry.

Origin of ferry

before 1150; Middle English ferien, Old English ferian to carry; cognate with Old Norse ferja, Gothic farjan; akin to fare
Related formsun·fer·ried, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for ferries


noun plural -ries
  1. Also called: ferryboat a vessel for transporting passengers and usually vehicles across a body of water, esp as a regular service
    1. such a service
    2. (in combination)a ferryman
  2. a legal right to charge for transporting passengers by boat
  3. the act or method of delivering aircraft by flying them to their destination
verb -ries, -rying or -ried
  1. to transport or go by ferry
  2. to deliver (an aircraft) by flying it to its destination
  3. (tr) to convey (passengers, goods, etc)the guests were ferried to the church in taxis

Word Origin for ferry

Old English ferian to carry, bring; related to Old Norse ferja to transport, Gothic farjan; see fare
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 ferries



early 15c., "a passage over a river," from Old Norse ferju- "passage across water," ultimately from the same Germanic root as ferry (v.). The modern noun (1580s) is a shortening of ferry boat (mid-15c.).



Old English ferian "to carry, convey, bring, transport," from Proto-Germanic *farjanan (cf. Old Frisian feria "carry, transport," Old Norse ferja "to pass over, to ferry," Gothic farjan "travel by boat"), from PIE *per- "going, passage." Related to fare (v.). Related: Ferried; ferries; ferrying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper