carry, bring, bear

Quick Summary

Just like a ferry carries people across the water, so too does the Latin word root fer mean to ‘carry.’ Many different words come from fer, including prefer, refer, and conference. Perhaps the easiest way to help remember this root word is when you transfer money, or ‘carry’ across funds from one bank account to another.

Carry Me Fer(ry)!

Today we will refer often to the Latin root word fer, which means to ‘carry.’

Have you recently been to the reference section in the library? Reference books ‘carry’ back their knowledge to you, the reader, much like a reporter carries back the news.

When you transfer funds from one bank account to another, you ‘carry’ them across from one to the next. As you do this, you might have to refer, or ‘carry’ back your eyes to your financial statements to make sure you have enough money. If you don’t do this, you might have to suffer the consequences, or be ‘carried’ under a heavy burden.

We all like to root for different teams at a soccer match, since we are all ‘carried’ apart to separate likes and dislikes; or, to say it in a different way, when one thing is different from another, it is ‘carried’ apart from it. We also all love the referees in a match when they ‘carry’ back a good ruling for our own team!

Some people find one thing to be preferable to another, that is, ‘carried’ before something else. When you don’t prefer one thing to another, you are said to be indifferent, that is, you do not ‘carry’ one thing apart from another, but remain completely neutral. When a preference is stated, however, some are quite vociferous in stating it, ‘carrying’ their voices quite loudly for all to hear.

Many seemingly unrelated words are related etymologically by this root word. Consider, for instance, the words conifer, referendum, circumference, and fertile. A conifer is a cone ‘carrying’ tree, that is, one that is cone ‘bearing.’ A referendum is a political or civic issue that is ‘carried’ back before the people for a vote. A circumference is how far one must ‘carry’ a measurement around a circle. And a fertile apple tree? Its limbs ‘carry’ a lot of apples!

People often defer to experts, ‘carrying’ themselves away to hear their opinions. To hear these experts, people often attend conferences, or a ‘carrying’ together of many people with the same interests.

I think that it is now safe for me to infer that you will no longer need to refer to the dictionary to know that the root word fer can make a difference as you ‘carry’ on in your study of vocabulary!

  1. transfer: ‘carry’ across
  2. suffer: ‘carry’ under
  3. different: ‘carried’ apart
  4. refer: ‘carry’ back
  5. prefer: ‘carry’ before
  6. fertile: ‘carries’ much fruit
  7. infer: ‘carry’ into
  8. referendum: vote ‘carried’ back
  9. circumference: a ‘carrying’ around
  10. vociferous: voice ‘carrying’
  11. coniferous: cone ‘carrying’


  • deference

    If you behave with deference towards someone, you show them respect and accept their opinions or decisions, especially because they have an important position.

  • vociferous

    Someone who is vociferous expresses their opinions loudly and strongly because they want their views to be heard.

  • proliferate

    If something proliferates, it grows and spreads quickly so that there is a great abundance of it.

  • indifferent

    If you are indifferent about something, you are uninterested or neutral about it, not caring either in a positive or negative way.

  • inference

    An inference is a logical conclusion drawn from available data using reason.

  • proffer

    When you proffer something to someone, you offer it up or hold it out to them to take.

  • referendum

    A referendum is a proposed measure or other concern that is brought before the people for a vote.

  • difference

    A difference in something is what makes it not like something else; it can also be a change that makes it not like it was before.

  • prefer

    When you prefer one thing over another, you like it or want it more than that other thing.

  • transfer

    When something is transferred, it is moved or carried from one place to another.

  • refer

    When you refer to something or someone, you mention or speak about it or them.

  • defer

    If you defer the occurrence of something, you move or delay it to a later point in time.

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