n. (pl.)

WA cartes, sg. carte-(wise)

'chariot, cart' (Modern English cart)


The influence of ON kartr is often cited to explain the metathesis of /r/ + vowel in ME cart next to OE cræt (though the reverse is more usual between OE and ON), although presence or absence of metathesis is no secure test of loan (as noted by Bj. who argues against it). It may be significant (as OED notes), however, that the unmetathesized form never occurs in ME. The ult. etymology is somewhat obscure, though it is often connected with WGmc words relating to baskets or wickerwork, e.g. OHG kratto 'basket' (see further Kroonen, OED).

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

kartr 'cart'
(ONP kartr (sb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Icel kartur, Norw kart

OE Cognate

cræt 'cart, wagon, chariot'

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



The metathesized form is attested early from a1150(OE) Vsp.D.Hom.Nicod. (Vsp D.14) and Orrm, and is common and widespread in ME.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

WA 3058, 3629


MED cart (n.) , OED cart (n.) , HTOED , Bj. 244, de Vries kartr, Mag. kart(u)r, Orel *krattaz ~ * kratt┼Źn, Kroonen *kratt/dan-, DOE cræt, AEW cræt