Definition of carve in English:



  • 1Cut (a hard material) in order to produce an aesthetically pleasing object or design.

    ‘the wood was carved with runes’
    ‘bookcases of carved oak’
    • ‘The wood was carved with designs and went perfectly with the fluffy sheets and blankets that the king and queen enjoyed.’
    • ‘Copper, horses, and cloth were also traded for gold, malagueta pepper, carved ivory, and ebony.’
    • ‘The exhibition features a stunning array of sculpture, using welded metal, carved wood, ceramics and experimental media.’
    • ‘The board is carved in the baroque style of ornament, and resembles very closely the black, lettered placards erected in whitewashed country churches.’
    • ‘The aging man didn't seem to mind company while he carved the stone into the likenesses of his father and sister.’
    • ‘Sylvia, who was known for her beautifully hand carved walking sticks, offered to make him a handsome oak staff.’
    • ‘I carve stone with every tool I can grasp, from hammers and chisels, pneumatic tools, diamond grinders and cutters, even diamond chain saws.’
    • ‘He returned to interests that had captured his attention when he was a teenager, had visited museums to gaze at statues, and had tried carving wood.’
    • ‘We got some sandstone, and carved a large stone memorial for each of them.’
    • ‘Quiet evenings at home are spent carving ivory or bone, or playing string games like cat's cradle.’
    • ‘It's an attractive building, dark carved wood contrasting with the white sand.’
    • ‘The person who answered the door was the artist, Yelton, who had even carved a talking stick for the Queen about 10 years ago.’
    • ‘So whether the knife was just for eating, or was a specific tool just for carving wood, it still had to be made well.’
    • ‘Emnei walked into this room as well and dropped a small curtsey to the regal figure carving a red crystal while singing to herself softly.’
    • ‘In between working as a stockman, Possum had begun carving wood.’
    • ‘The drawings themselves will be used to produce the zinc templates from which workmen in the Minster stoneyard will work when they begin to carve the replacement stones.’
    • ‘The principal items for sale to tourists were mangy-looking fur hats and purses, Kashmiri embroidered felt rugs and tea cozies, and carved walking sticks.’
    • ‘Trained as an architect, Longhurst has been carving wood and stone since 1976.’
    • ‘The lavish silk upholstery and carved wood and ivory in the ‘palace on wheels’ make the current Royal train look austere by comparison.’
    • ‘I've seen a man carve the excess wood off a figure's hipbone, while others wait patiently on an assembly line.’
    sculpt, sculpture
    engrave, etch, notch, cut in, incise, score, print, mark
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    1. 1.1Produce (an object) by cutting and shaping a hard material.
      ‘the altar was carved from a block of solid jade’
      • ‘Lemaire did not notice that the first part of the inscription is carved by a different hand than that of the second part.’
      • ‘When Queequeg miraculously recovered, he carved exotic designs on his coffin and used it as a sea chest.’
      • ‘She slowed when she neared the tree where he'd carved their initials and carved a heart around them, stopping to trace it with that little light the moon allowed her.’
      • ‘Flat designs were carved into the walls, intricate mosaics the same golden color as the bricks.’
      • ‘From here I could see designs were carved into the hilts.’
      • ‘The artist uses clay loop tools, which are the same tools used to sculpt with clay, to carefully carve the design into the pumpkin.’
      • ‘Students are now ready to carve their designs into their linoleum blocks and make their test prints on paper.’
      • ‘Students used sharpened dowel rods to carve designs in the pot and lid.’
      • ‘Sydall carved his initials ES, those of his son GS, and the date 1585 over the solid oak front door where they can still be seen.’
      • ‘I think it's unfair to call it a ‘fake’ since we don't know who carved the inscription or why.’
      • ‘Skillfully, he carved an inscription, blew away the stray pieces of tree bark, and stood back to look at it.’
      • ‘Intricate designs were carved into the balustrades and columns.’
      • ‘The earliest blocks were made of wood into which a design was carved.’
      • ‘On all the chairs he makes he carves his initials into them to prove their authenticity.’
      • ‘Artists now have the means to embellish gourds with paint, beads, charms and buttons, as well as proper tools to wood burn and carve designs into the plant.’
      • ‘Next to them, several workers were carefully fine tuning the gongs to their designated tones, while the rest of the workers were carving intricate designs on wooden gong holders.’
      • ‘David Dewey carved inscriptions and floor numbers into the marble wall facings.’
      • ‘He drummed on the table for a long, silent moment while Brandark carved a fresh design, then glanced sideways at Tothas.’
      sculpt, sculpture
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    2. 1.2Produce (an inscription or design) by cutting into hard material.
      ‘an inscription was carved over the doorway’
      figurative ‘the river carved a series of gorges into the plain’
      sculpt, sculpture
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  • 2Cut (cooked meat) into slices for eating.

    • ‘Prometheus plays a trick on Zeus: he carves the meat and sets out servings, putting a tempting piece of meat on top of a pile of bones, and a nasty looking piece of skin on top of a pile of good meat.’
    • ‘Half-past one on the dot, after my dad had returned from the pub, the joint of meat would be ceremoniously carved.’
    • ‘The food fares well in terms of freshness, quantity and effort, and there's a made-to-order pasta bar and a station where roast beef is carved before your eyes.’
    • ‘He would sharpen a knife for a full five minutes before carving the roast.’
    • ‘Bernard stood in the corner of the room watching Ronald carve the turkey he was supposed to have caught, killed, skinned, and cut himself.’
    • ‘The chef's station will also carve roast beef or make fresh pasta to order, with loads of ingredients to customize your plate.’
    • ‘Put the turkey on a warmed serving plate and leave it to stand before you carve it.’
    • ‘To serve, carve meat and serve with sauce from pan, mash and green vegetables.’
    • ‘It wasn't just that no other country knew how to carve it or cook it properly - with plenty of lard - but that they mucked about with their food to hide its taste because it was of inferior quality.’
    • ‘Back in Aix dinner was served at the restaurant Chez Maxime, where Maxime himself was very much in evidence as he carved the meat and talked with customers.’
    • ‘Let stand for 5 minutes before carving the meat off the upright carcass.’
    • ‘The white meat in it had been carved a quarter of an inch thick.’
    • ‘Gigot, well flavoured and well timed, is carved at the table with concentrated panache.’
    • ‘The general manager was carving the meat, and became concerned about having enough for other patrons, John said.’
    • ‘Using a sharp knife, carve the fillet into wafer thin slices.’
    • ‘Nothing was served except meat, which the diners carved from the roast with their knives.’
    • ‘These are in large warmers and again the meat had been carved thickly, none of this wafer thin slices swimming in gravy that is sometimes served up as a British roast dinner.’
    • ‘Leave meat to stand for 3-4 minutes before carving.’
    slice, cut up, chop, dice
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    1. 2.1Cut (a slice of meat) from a larger piece.
      • ‘He carved a slice of baked ham for a wispy, black child with large hungry eyes.’
      • ‘I will also, immediately get images in my mind of loads of tall guys, with floppy fringes, carving thin slices of swan.’
      • ‘I carve some slices, heat up some tortillas, and pull out some plates.’
      • ‘It was then served by slices being carved from it and being served… with the boar's head!’
      • ‘There's also roast beef, delicately sliced from the rare side or carved away in dense pieces on the well done side.’
      • ‘She carves me a slice, and serves it up with a spoon of the bittersweet cloudberry compôte.’
      slice, cut up, chop, dice
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  • 3Skiing
    Make (a turn) by tilting one's skis on to their edges and using one's weight to bend them so that they slide into an arc.

    • ‘It is possible to see the width of the boarder's trail change as you carve turns, and snow sprays satisfyingly when you screech to a stop.’
    • ‘A descent is a source of amusement to my wife, the graceful one; she likes to watch me carve turns.’
    • ‘Turning away from the cairn and the bearded men in luminous jackets gathered about it, we stepped into our skis and pushed off, carving the first turns of our long, final descent.’
    • ‘Most of them had long silky hair and cute ski outfits and could carve turns in the snow like razors.’
    • ‘But when you pick up a little speed and you lean over, you carve a big turn.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • carve something out

    • 1Take something from a larger whole, especially with difficulty.

      ‘carving out a 5 percent share of the overall vote’
      • ‘More than 20 years ago the business was carved up, with Tom assuming control of the hide and leather business, while Louis and John concentrated on property, rendering, pig-breeding and cattle.’
      • ‘A casualty of the post-war mania for partitioning flats, the space had been carved up into claustrophobic rooms.’
      • ‘Train services were carved up into 25 franchises and offered to new companies on seven-year contracts.’
      • ‘But since it's difficult to carve a conspiracy theory out of events as straightforward as those, he chooses to misrepresent what occurred.’
    • 2Establish or create something through painstaking effort.

      ‘he managed to carve out a successful photographic career for himself’
      • ‘I told myself I was going to carve a book out of this mass of papers.’
      • ‘Paramount Classics was created and carved a niche out for itself in the manically frugal Jon Dolgen era where they did as was demanded of them… they earned a decent return on investment and never lost the company money.’
      • ‘At half-time yesterday, you would have been hard pressed to find anyone at Malleny Park who would have bet money on Boroughmuir carving a win out of this match.’
      • ‘This idea of the rugged individualist, the person who takes care of business on their own, has their own gun and protects their own family and carves a life out of the wilderness.’
      • ‘Historian Brian M. Linn of Texas A & M University has carved an academic niche out of that long-ago campaign, with two books to his credit.’
      • ‘And if it weren't for the rest of us, most of them wouldn't get very far trying to carve their living out of the raw earth.’
      • ‘Far from the gurnings of a sulky celebrity, such a public tirade is typical of a man who has carved a career out of words as well as actions.’
      • ‘Jim Milton, the doyen of crisis management, is bringing his decades of experience to bear in a bid to calm bothered executives and carve a path out of the troubles.’
  • carve someone up

    • Slash someone with a knife or other sharp object.

      • ‘I'm not gonna stick around waiting for him to get bored and carve me up.’
      • ‘They're standing out there with long knives, waiting to carve you up and you had to justify everything you said.’
      • ‘Does he ever worry he's been hired by a lunatic who has plans to carve him up into little pieces before the night is through?’
      • ‘One never knows what'll trigger a guy to pull a knife and carve you up a bit.’
      • ‘Actually, his relatives seem more interested in carving her up with a knife - and Daniel along with her.’
      • ‘I'll go straight to wherever you're lying, asleep, and use that knife to carve you up.’
  • carve something up

    • Divide something ruthlessly into separate areas or domains.

      ‘West Africa was carved up by the Europeans’
      • ‘After the campaign ended Lawrence returned to England to promote the cause of Arab independence, but to his dismay the region was carved up between the world powers.’
      • ‘The process is driven by an elite group of territorial politicians who don't want to share power, but to take it and selfishly carve it up.’
      • ‘Any attempt to abolish it and carve it up between neighbouring dioceses would certainly cause a bitter row and be fiercely opposed by local Anglicans angered by what they would see as a loss of identity.’
      • ‘His designs went beyond annexing the land: he dreamed of carving a homeland out of the region.’
      • ‘So, the scam result is: grabbers get government land for a pittance, carve it up into six-seven sites per acre and make a killing.’
      • ‘With no effective central authority, Afghanistan was carved up between heavily-armed militias, each vying for influence.’
      • ‘But specifically it was an inheritance from a time when straight talk was impossible: the century and a half or more of the Partition when the country was carved up between Russia, Prussia and Austria.’
      • ‘Africa, Asia and the Middle East were carved up and shared out among the European powers.’
      • ‘The country lost its independence in the three Polish partitions, when it was carved up between Russia, Prussia, and Austria-Hungary.’
      • ‘What is at issue is regime by which the Atlantic routes are carved up by the regulators.’
      divide, partition, parcel out, apportion, subdivide, split up, break up, separate out, segregate, measure out
      share out, dole out
      divvy up
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Old English ceorfan cut, carve; related to Dutch kerven.