What Does A Card-Carrying Member Mean?

Card-Carrying Member Meaning

Definition: Someone who is an official member of an organization or group.

This idiom is used to establish a person as a member of a group. People often use this idiom to refer to someone’s political party affiliation or involvement in a labor union.

It can occasionally but does not necessarily mean that the “card-carrying member” possesses a physical identification card that confirms his or her membership in the group.

Origin of A Card-Carrying Member

It is speculated that this idiom became popular around 1948. Although it is unclear when the idiom was first used, “card-carrying member” simply established someone as a member of a group prior to 1948. The idiom carried the same definition then as it does now.

define card carrying memberDuring the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, “a card-carrying member” usually referred to suspected members of the Communist party. Some members of the Communist party did have membership cards.

Joseph McCarthy, a senator from Wisconsin, may have been responsible for making the term popular thanks to a speech he made in 1950. In it, McCarthy declared he had discovered more than 200 “card-carrying members” of the Communist party working for the American government.

Examples of A Card-Carrying Member

meaning of card carrying memberThe idiom is most often used to confirm a person’s membership in or affiliation with a political party, labor union, or government agency. It also suggests the person is actively and passionately involved in the organization.

An example conversation between two friends below illustrates the correct use of this idiom.

Bill: Did you hear that Bob is planning on voting Independent this year?

Joe: Bob will never vote Independent. The man is a card-carrying member of the Democratic party. He said himself that voting third-party is a wasted vote.

More Examples

  • Admittedly now a card-carrying member of the liberal and coastal elite so despised by Donald J. Trump’s core constituency, I didn’t always see myself this way. –New York Times
  • In fact, during the 1988 campaign, President Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, attacked opponent Michael Dukakis as “a card-carrying member” of the ACLU, code for accusing the Democrat of being soft on criminals. –USAToday


The English term a card-carrying member is used to identify someone as a member of a group or organization, most commonly a political party or government agency.