1. A biennial Eurasian plant (Daucus carota subsp. sativus) in the parsley family, widely cultivated as an annual for its edible taproot.
2. The usually tapering, elongate, fleshy orange root of this plant, eaten as a vegetable.
3. Queen Anne's lace.
4. A reward offered for desired behavior; an inducement: "The U.S. should use a moratorium on SDI development as a carrot to bring an acceptable offensive arms limitation" (C. Peter Gall).
[French carotte, from Old French garroite, from Latin carōta, from Greek karōton; see ker-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.