Carry on, carry-on, and carrion

Carry on, carry-on, and carrion are words that are close in spelling and pronunciation and may be considered confusables. Confusables is a catch-all term for words that are often misused or confused; there are many confusing words in the English language that may be easily confused for each other in spoken English and written English. Two words or more than two words, even if they are common words, may be confused because they are similar in spelling, similar in pronunciation, or similar in meaning. These commonly confused words may be pronounced the same way or pronounced differently or may be spelled the same way or spelled differently, or may have different meanings or have almost different meanings; they may be homophones, homonyms, heteronyms, homographs, words that have a similar spelling, or words that have a similar meaning. Sometimes, confusables are word constructions that are not proper English words. Confusables often confound native speakers of English, and they may be difficult for ESL students and those learning English to understand. Confusables are misspelled, misused words that have a different meaning from one another and may be nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, or any other part of speech. Spelling rules in English are not dependable; there are many exceptions. Often, the best procedure to learn new words and commonly misused words and commonly confused words in English is to make word lists of English words for the learner to study to understand the difference in spelling and meaning. To learn new words in the English language, one must not only study a spelling words list, one must know the meaning of words in one’s vocabulary word list. It is also helpful to memorize how to correctly pronounce words and to know the etymology of new words or where they are derived from. A spell checker will rarely find this type of mistake in English vocabulary, so do not rely on spell check but instead, learn to spell and learn the definitions of words. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a confusable in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. Confusables are often used in wordplay like puns. We will examine the different meanings of the confusables carry on, carry-on, and carrion, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

Carry on means to continue, to keep going in a certain direction, or to behave in an over-emotional fashion. Carry on is a verbal phrase that has been in use for many hundreds of years. Related phrases are carries on, carried on, carrying on.

A carry-on is a piece of luggage that one takes into the passenger cabin when traveling by air. Many travelers find it more convenient to forego baggage claim to retrieve their checked baggage; however, carry-ons must pass through airport security at a checkpoint manned by TSA. Rules govern the use of the carry-on, especially size limitations. Wheeled suitcases, backpacks, or other carry-on baggage must fit in the overhead compartment on the airplane. The traveler is limited to one bag if he opts to use carry-on luggage. Many favor the checked bag rather than the carry-on bag, because they can use a larger piece of luggage. The word carry-on came into use in the 1960s, with the rise of air travel for the average person. The plural form of carry-on is carry-ons; note the hyphen.

Carrion is a decaying, rotting, dead animal carcass or the flesh of a decaying, rotting, dead animal carcass. Raptors and birds of prey such as the hawk, eagle, falcon, and owl may eat carrion; however, scavenger birds such as turkey vultures, black vultures, and buzzards are much more likely to eat carrion of small mammals, birds, or reptiles. The word carrion is derived from the Old French word, charogne, which means corpse.


Carbondale’s Mountain Fair to carry on for 50th anniversary celebration despite COVID limitations (Glenwood Springs Post Independent)

“And when I have spoken to other mums the thought for them of having to breastfeed in public, so never mind online, is one of the reasons why they don’t carry on breastfeeding.” (Irish Mirror)

Travelers buying JetBlue’s “Blue Basic” tickets beginning next week will not be allowed to bring a traditional carry-on bag as of July 20. (USA Today)

Yeti is also stepping into suitcases with two soft-sided luggage options, a carry-on size 22″ and a checked-size 29″, both made with TuffSkin Nylon and a molded shell that holds their shape. (Condé Nast Traveler)

“They will go as far as eating carrion beside the road when it’s available and when the fish aren’t available.” (Delphos Herald)

A while back, an Almanack reader shared some photos of bald eagles eating carrion, caught on a trail cam. (Adirondack Almanack)

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