What Does To Carve Someone Up Mean?

To Carve Someone Up Meaning

Definition: To cut someone with a knife or sharp object.

This expression is informal or slang.

Origin of Carve Someone Up

This phrasal verb comes from the Old English verb ceorfan, which means to cut or carve. It is related to the Dutch word kerven.

Carve means to cut or to slice, and it usually describes cutting a hard object like wood. It is also common to say carving meat. A butcher carves meat; people carve a turkey and Thanksgiving.

But to carve up also means to divide or dismember, and it can be used to describe splitting up territory or land.

It is unclear exactly when this expression started to mean to attack someone with a knife.

Examples of Carve Someone Up

define carving upA woman uses this idiom while jokingly threatening her friend.

Rodrigo: Hey! Stop stealing my French fries.

Alisha: Oh, sorry. I’m just starving. And my food isn’t ready yet.

Rodrigo: Well, I don’t share fries.

Alisha: Oh, is that so? Well, my knife says differently! Now hand over your fries, or I’ll carve you up!

Rodrigo: Okay, take as many as you want. Normally, I’d think you were joking, but that knife is really sharp.

Meaning of carving someone up-1In the below example, two friends are discussing the sad fate of their friend in prison.   

Luis: I just got off the phone with Billy. He had some bad news about Alex.

Stephanie: Oh no! It’s bad enough that he’s in prison. What happened to him?

Luis: Apparently, he got into a fight with another inmate. This other guy was huge, and he somehow had made a shiv out of his toothbrush. He used it carve Alex up.

Stephanie: Is Alex okay?

Luis: Billy wasn’t sure. I guess he’s in the hospital at the moment. He’ll call us back when he knows more information.

More Examples

This excerpt is about a man who murdered a child.

Aron, 35, never once spoke the name of Leiby Kletzky, the Hasidic 8-year-old who approached him for help and wound up slaughtered. He referred to the moment when he smothered the boy and carved him up as “the incident.” –New York Daily News

This excerpt is from an article about a man who was found innocent of murder because he acted in self-defense.

Morel’s mother was outraged that Garcia will avoid jail.

  • “He stabbed my son three times,” Florence Kwiatkowski told The News. “He carved him up. This guy cannot walk free.” –New York Daily News


To carve someone up means to slash or stab at someone.