What Does To Carp About Something Mean?

To Carp About Something Meaning

Definition: To whine and complain; to criticize.

The verb to carp is synonymous with to complain. However, where complaining is usually understandable, carping about something is complaining to the extent that it annoys others and may make people uncomfortable.

Someone who is carping about something is not doing anything to solve the problem that is bothering him. Instead, he is continuously complaining. They may be criticizing someone or something endlessly. Carping about something is not a productive form of complaint of criticism.

Origin of To Carp About Something

define to carp about somethingThe verb to carp came in to English usage in the 1200s, beginning as the verb carpen, which meant to speak (rather than specifically speaking in a complaining manner).

This word came from Old Norse language, when included the word karpa, meaning to brag. This is a far different use than what to carp means in English now because complaining about something does not necessarily involve any bragging.

There is also a fish called a carp. This idiom is not related to the fish or to sea life at all, although many people enjoy looking for connections to fishing.

Examples of To Carp About Something

definition of carpIf a baseball player were to complain constantly about his practices, he would be carping about them. He may complain that they lift weights too much, that his arms are sore, that he does not have enough time for other activities, and that his social life is suffering. None of these complaints involve him doing anything to improve his situation, so he is carping about baseball practice.

Another person could carp about what he had for lunch. He may whine that nothing tastes good and that he could make a much better dish, but because he is not doing anything to create a better lunch, he is carping about it.

More Examples

  • The Web has given movie buffs a broad forum to carp about traditional reviewers and post their own opinions, which often reflect more populist tastes than those of professional critics. –Today
  • Perhaps Mr. Turan should “stretch” himself in the field of the arts before sitting down to carp about others.  –LA Times


To carp about something is to complain excessively.