verb (used with object), carved, carv·ing.
- to cut (a solid material) so as to form something: to carve a piece of pine.
- to form from a solid material by cutting: to carve a statue out of stone.
- to cut into slices or pieces, as a roast of meat.
- to decorate with designs or figures cut on the surface: The top of the box was beautifully carved with figures of lions and unicorns.
- to cut (a design, figures, etc.) on a surface: Figures of lions and unicorns were carved on the top of the box.
- to make or create for oneself (often followed by out): He carved out a career in business.
verb (used without object), carved, carv·ing.
- to carve figures, designs, etc.
- to cut meat.
- (tr) to cut or chip in order to form somethingto carve wood
- to decorate or form (something) by cutting or chippingto carve statues
- to slice (meat) into piecesto carve a turkey
Old English ceorfan (class III strong verb; past tense cearf, past participle corfen) “to cut, cut down, slay; to carve, cut out, engrave,” from West Germanic *kerfan (cf. Old Frisian kerva, Middle Dutch and Dutch kerven, German kerben “to cut, notch”), from PIE root *gerbh- “to scratch,” making carve the English cognate of Greek graphein “to write,” originally “to scratch” on clay tablets with a stylus.
Once extensively used, most senses now usurped by cut (v.). Meaning specialized to sculpture, meat, etc., by 16c. Related: Carved; carving. Original strong conjugation has been abandoned, but archaic carven lingers.