Discover the various idiomatic expressions that use the word “carry,” from “carry a torch” to “carry the day.” Learn the meanings and origins of these phrases, and explore examples of how to use them in everyday conversation. This post is a must-read for anyone who wants to improve their knowledge of English idioms and expressions.
Carry a torch (for someone):
The phrase “carry a torch (for someone)” is an idiomatic expression that means to have romantic feelings or a deep emotional attachment to someone, especially when that person is not aware of or does not reciprocate those feelings. This phrase is often used to describe a person who is secretly in love with someone else, or who has not been able to move on from a past relationship. Example:
- Even though they broke up years ago, he still carries a torch for his ex-girlfriend and can’t seem to move on.
- She’s been carrying a torch for him for years, but he’s never shown any interest in her romantically.
- He’s always had a soft spot for her and still carries a torch, even though they haven’t seen each other in years.
Carry the ball:
“Carry the ball” is an idiomatic expression that means to take responsibility for leading or managing a particular task or project. The phrase is often used in the context of teamwork or sports, where one player is responsible for carrying the ball down the field towards the goal. Example:
- Our team needs someone to carry the ball and take charge of this project.
- He’s been carrying the ball for this campaign from the beginning, and I’m confident he can lead us to victory.
- The CEO has tasked me with carrying the ball on this new initiative, and I’m determined to make it a success.
“Carried away” is an idiomatic expression that means to become overly excited or emotional about something, often leading to excessive behavior or actions. It can also refer to being swept up in a moment or losing self-control due to strong emotions. Example:
- She was so carried away by the music that she danced all night without stopping.
- He got carried away during the argument and said things he didn’t mean.
- The fans were carried away by their team’s victory and started celebrating in the streets.
- I almost got carried away with buying souvenirs on my vacation and spent more money than I intended.
carry coals to Newcastle
“Carry coals to Newcastle” is an idiomatic expression that means to do something that is unnecessary or redundant, especially when the intended recipient already has an abundance of that particular thing. The phrase comes from a historical context when Newcastle, a city in England, was known for its abundant coal resources. Example:
- Offering to bring snacks to a potluck dinner where there will already be an abundance of food is like carrying coals to Newcastle.
- Trying to sell ice to Eskimos is like carrying coals to Newcastle.
- Asking a computer programmer to teach you how to use a basic computer program is like carrying coals to Newcastle.
carry on about someone or something
“Carry on about someone or something” is an idiomatic expression that means to talk excessively or complain frequently about someone or something. The phrase can also imply that the person talking is being annoying or repetitive. Example:
- She just won’t stop carrying on about how much she dislikes her job.
- He’s been carrying on about the same issue for hours, and I’m starting to tune him out.
- My mother always carries on about my messy room, but I don’t think it’s that bad.
- The customers in the restaurant were carrying on about the slow service, even though it wasn’t the server’s fault.
carry on with someone or something and carry on
“Carry on with someone or something” is an idiomatic expression that means to continue or proceed with a person or task. It can also mean to maintain or sustain a relationship, or to persist in doing something despite challenges or difficulties.
- Despite the bad weather, we decided to carry on with our hiking trip.
- She decided to carry on with her business despite facing a lot of challenges and setbacks.
- We need to carry on with the project if we want to meet the deadline.
- He carried on with his studies despite the distractions around him.
“Carry on” can also be used as a standalone phrase that means to continue doing something without interruption, to behave in an excessive or inappropriate manner, or to make a fuss or commotion about something.
- Please carry on with your work, I don’t want to interrupt you.
- The party next door was carrying on until the early hours of the morning, and I couldn’t sleep.
- She carried on about the minor issue for hours, making it seem much bigger than it really was.
- The old lady carried on as if she didn’t hear me, despite my repeated attempts to get her attention.
carry one’s own weight and carry one’s weight;
“Carry one’s own weight” and “carry one’s weight” are similar idiomatic expressions that mean to take responsibility for oneself and contribute to a group or situation in a meaningful way. The phrase suggests that each person has a responsibility to do their part and not rely solely on others.
- If you want to succeed in this team, you need to carry your own weight and contribute to the project.
- In order to maintain a healthy relationship, both partners need to carry their weight and make an effort to understand each other’s needs.
- The new employee quickly proved herself by carrying her weight and going above and beyond what was expected of her.
- If everyone in the company carries their own weight, we can achieve great things together.
Note that “carry one’s weight” can also be used in a negative context, to suggest that someone is not doing their fair share or contributing enough to a group or situation.
- It’s not fair that John always leaves early and doesn’t carry his weight on the project.
- If you’re not willing to carry your weight in the relationship, then maybe we should reconsider being together.
carry someone or something away and carry away someone or something:
“Carry someone or something away” and “carry away someone or something” are similar idiomatic expressions with different meanings.
“Carry someone or something away” means to physically move or transport someone or something from one place to another.
- The firefighters carried the injured man away from the burning building.
- The strong currents of the river carried the raft away from its intended course.
- The workers carried the heavy boxes away from the storage room.
“Carry away someone or something” means to become extremely engrossed or absorbed in something, often to the point of being carried away by one’s emotions or imagination.
- The actor’s performance was so convincing that he carried away the entire audience.
- The children were carried away by the excitement of the carnival games and rides.
- She was carried away by the romance of the novel and couldn’t put it down.
Note that “carry away” can also be used in the literal sense of physically moving something or someone away, but the context usually makes it clear which meaning is intended.
carry someone or something off and carry off someone or something:
“Carry someone or something off” and “carry off someone or something” are similar idiomatic expressions with different meanings.
“Carry someone or something off” means to move or take someone or something away forcefully, often in a victorious or successful manner.
- The band played so well that they carried off first prize in the music competition.
- The athlete’s impressive performance carried him off as the winner of the race.
- The storm carried off several houses and caused extensive damage to the town.
“Carry off someone or something” means to execute or accomplish something successfully, often in a challenging or difficult situation.
- Despite her lack of experience, she managed to carry off the role of the lead actress in the play.
- The team was able to carry off a last-minute victory in the championship game.
- He had to improvise his presentation, but he carried off the talk with great confidence and poise.
Note that “carry off” can also be used in the literal sense of physically moving someone or something away, but the context usually makes it clear which meaning is intended.
carry someone or something out and carry out someone or something
“Carry someone or something out” and “carry out someone or something” are similar idiomatic expressions with different meanings.
“Carry someone or something out” means to physically move or transport someone or something from a particular location, often outside of a building or enclosed space.
- The paramedics carried the injured man out of the burning building on a stretcher.
- The movers carried the furniture out of the house and loaded it onto the truck.
- The students carried their science projects out of the classroom to the school’s science fair.
“Carry out someone or something” means to fulfill or perform a task, plan, or instruction.
- The company promised to carry out a thorough investigation of the incident.
- The government is planning to carry out a new policy to reduce carbon emissions.
- The chef was able to successfully carry out the complicated recipe and serve a delicious meal.
Note that “carry out” can also be used in the literal sense of physically moving someone or something out of a location, but the context usually makes it clear which meaning is intended.
carry something over and carry over something
“Carry something over” and “carry over something” are similar idiomatic expressions with different meanings.
“Carry something over” means to continue or postpone something to a later time or situation.
- We weren’t able to finish the project by the deadline, so we had to carry it over to the next week.
- The budget for this year is larger than we expected, so we will carry over the excess funds to next year.
- I didn’t have time to use up all of my vacation days this year, so I plan to carry them over to next year.
“Carry over something” means to transfer or apply something from one situation or context to another.
- The skills she learned in her previous job were easily carried over to her new position.
- The company was able to carry over some of its marketing strategies from its successful product to its new product.
- I had extra credit on my previous college coursework that was carried over to my current degree program.
Note that “carry over” can also be used in the literal sense of physically moving something to another location, but the context usually makes it clear which meaning is intended.
carry the weight of the world on one’s shoulders
“Carry the weight of the world on one’s shoulders” is an idiomatic expression that means to feel a heavy burden of responsibility, stress, or worry.
- Ever since his father’s illness, John has been carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, trying to juggle caring for his father, his job, and his family.
- As the CEO of the company, Sarah feels like she is carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders, constantly worrying about the success and growth of the business.
- After the accident, the survivor felt like she was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders, struggling to cope with the trauma and aftermath.
carry weight with someone and carry weight
“Carry weight with someone” and “carry weight” are idiomatic expressions that have a similar meaning, but are used in slightly different contexts.
“Carry weight with someone” means to have influence or credibility with someone, especially in terms of their opinion or decision-making.
- Jane’s opinion carries a lot of weight with the boss, so her support for the project will be important.
- The expert’s testimony carried a lot of weight with the jury, which helped sway the verdict.
- Because of his experience and reputation, the professor’s recommendation carried a lot of weight with the admissions committee.
“Carry weight” means to have significance or importance.
- In this election, the issue of healthcare will carry a lot of weight with voters.
- The candidate’s past actions and behavior will carry weight in the decision of whether or not to hire them.
- When making a big purchase, the price of the item often carries a lot of weight in the decision-making process.
Note that “carry weight” can also be used in a more literal sense, such as when lifting a heavy object or when something is physically heavy, but in these cases it is not an idiomatic expression.