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 conclusion that is reached using available data.

  • proffer

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

  • referendum

    A referendum is a suggested 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 the other thing.

  • transfer

    When you transfer something, you move or carry it from one place to another.

  • refer

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

  • defer

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

  • aquifer

    underground bed or layer yielding ground water for wells and springs etc

  • circumference

    the size of something as given by the distance around it

  • conference

    a prearranged meeting for consultation or exchange of information or discussion (especially one with a formal agenda)

  • conifer

    any gymnospermous tree or shrub bearing cones

  • deferential

    showing deference

  • deferment

    act of putting off to a future time

  • deferral

    a state of abeyance or suspended business

  • differ

    be different

  • differentiation

    a discrimination between things as different and distinct

  • fertile

    capable of reproducing

  • fertility

    the ratio of live births in an area to the population of that area

  • fertilize

    provide with fertilizers or add nutrients to

  • infer

    reason by deduction

  • infertile

    incapable of reproducing

  • insufferable

    used of persons or their behavior

  • nontransferable

    incapable of being transferred

  • odoriferous

    morally offensive

  • offer

    a usually brief attempt

  • pestiferous

    contaminated with infecting organisms

  • preferential

    manifesting partiality

  • proliferation

    growth by the rapid multiplication of parts

  • referee

    be a referee or umpire in a sports competition

  • reference

    refer to

  • referent

    having reference

  • referential

    referring or pointing to something

  • referral

    a person whose case has been referred to a specialist or professional group

  • suffer

    undergo or be subjected to

  • vociferate

    utter in a very loud voice

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