Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Carp


The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is carp. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

To carp means “to complain in an annoying way,” and often suggests that such complaining is habitual. 

// He carps too much about the umpire’s bad calls when he should be focused on improving his swing.

CARP in Context

“It’s not easy watching money vanish as the market plunges, particularly when many people, some of them highly respected, are carping about the end of the world, which invariably accompanies a market collapse.” — Nir Kaissar, Bloomberg Opinion, 30 Nov. 2020

Did You Know?

Though someone might hypothetically carp about the fish known as carp, the similarity between the words is wholly coincidental. Both entered the English language in the 15th century but from different sources. Like many terms for plants and animals adopted at that point in the language’s history, the fish’s name traces back to Late Latin, but the verb is of Scandinavian origin. It shares an ancestor with the Icelandic verb karpa, meaning “to dispute” or “to wrangle,” which in turn comes from an Old Norse word meaning “boasting” or “arrogance.” We promise there’s nothing fishy about that.

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