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[fer-ee] /ˈfɛr i/
noun, plural ferries.
a commercial service with terminals and boats for transporting persons, automobiles, etc., across a river or other comparatively small body of water.
a ferryboat.
a service for flying airplanes over a particular route, especially the delivery of airplanes to an overseas purchaser or base of operations.
the legal right to ferry passengers, cargo, etc., and to charge for the service.
verb (used with object), ferried, ferrying.
to carry or convey back and forth over a fixed route in a boat or plane.
to fly (an airplane) over a particular route, especially for delivery.
verb (used without object), ferried, ferrying.
to go in a ferry.
Origin of ferry
before 1150; Middle English ferien, Old English ferian to carry; cognate with Old Norse ferja, Gothic farjan; akin to fare
Related forms
unferried, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ferry
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • To the corporal's inquiry he replied that ferry had just passed on.

    The Cavalier George Washington Cable
  • We've got two small boats with which to ferry back and forth.

    Adaptation Dallas McCord Reynolds
  • In half a shake Jimmy Fox found himself bound hand and foot to the ferry bell post.

    The Torch and Other Tales Eden Phillpotts
  • "Keeps his head pretty well, even after his legs are gone," said ferry.

    Waring's Peril Charles King
  • After lunch, at about three, they started on their walk, and managed to ferry themselves over the river.

    The Mistletoe Bough Anthony Trollope
British Dictionary definitions for ferry


noun (pl) -ries
Also called ferryboat. a vessel for transporting passengers and usually vehicles across a body of water, esp as a regular service
  1. such a service
  2. (in combination): a ferryman
a legal right to charge for transporting passengers by boat
the act or method of delivering aircraft by flying them to their destination
verb -ries, -rying, -ried
to transport or go by ferry
to deliver (an aircraft) by flying it to its destination
(transitive) to convey (passengers, goods, etc): the guests were ferried to the church in taxis
Word Origin
Old English ferian to carry, bring; related to Old Norse ferja to transport, Gothic farjan; see fare
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for ferry

Old English ferian "to carry, convey, bring, transport," from Proto-Germanic *farjanan (cf. Old Frisian feria "carry, transport," Old Norse ferja "to pass over, to ferry," Gothic farjan "travel by boat"), from PIE *per- "going, passage." Related to fare (v.). Related: Ferried; ferries; ferrying.


early 15c., "a passage over a river," from Old Norse ferju- "passage across water," ultimately from the same Germanic root as ferry (v.). The modern noun (1580s) is a shortening of ferry boat (mid-15c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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