How to use the word CART/KART, whose meanings are below:

  1. (KART) a heavy vehicle, usually having four wheels, which is driven by some racers in the race ground.

  2. (CART) a light open horse-drawn vehicle having two wheels and springs, for business or pleasure.

  3. (CART) any small vehicle drawn or pushed by hand, such as a trolley.

So while having a conversation with my friend I said we'll go to cart race (vehicle driven by horse in India), but unfortunately he thought we're going to kart race (four wheeler vehicle driven by racer).

When texting I knew there won't be a problem, but while speaking these words how can I ensure there is no confusion for him? As: should I pronounce those words differently to make myself clear or should I explain? What is better when using other words with the same pronunciation?

cart driven by human

cart driven by horse


  • 1
    Pronouncing differently wouldn't make a difference. If this actually happened in real life, I would chalk it up to the wonders of English, laugh, and have a story to tell.
    – user6951
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 16:31

7 Answers 7


From Wikipedia, "the term 'cart' has come to mean nearly any small conveyance, from shopping carts to golf carts, without regard to number of wheels, load carried, or means of propulsion."

In American English, "kart" refers to a very small race car, often called a "go-kart". "Cart" is used for everything else. Because "cart" and "kart" are pronounced the same, the context has to provide the meaning in conversation.

"Cart" has so many possible meanings that it is usually preceded by another word to describe the type of cart. Examples include golf cart, shopping cart, hand cart, horse cart, go-kart, utility cart, tool cart, computer cart, luggage cart, ice cream cart, food cart, and beverage cart.

  • There is also a go-cart, which can mean a baby stroller, a walker for children learning to walk, and a man-pulled cart.
    – user6951
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 16:34

Down here in Australia, at least, we'd disambiguate with 'horse and cart race' and 'Go-Kart race'.


You might consider using the word chariot in place of cart if you intend to describe a race between horse-drawn carriages, though it's admittedly a bit archaic. In the US, if you asked me if I wanted to go to a kart/cart race (in conversation), I would assume you meant the four-wheeled vehicle driven by a driver. In fact, due in part to the popularity of Nintendo's "Mario Kart" franchise, I think most of the English-speaking world, if not all of it, would assume this. However, if you asked me if I wanted to go to a chariot race, I would definitely think it was a bit strange, but I would certainly know you were talking about a race between horse-drawn vehicles.

  • So for every words with same pronunciation this is the remedy? Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 5:44
  • 1
    In most cases, you won't run into this problem. This is a fairly unique situation where regional terms cause issues. As an American, I had no idea they had cart races like you describe in India, so I never would have guessed that you meant a horse-drawn cart race.
    – nmar
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 5:51
  • 1
    Asking someone if the want to go see a chariot race does not do much to add clarity. One could think it meant a race at a Greco-Roman exhibition or an amusement ride or a race in some computer game. Chariot is not an archaic word, but chariot race is an archaic activity.
    – user6951
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 16:30

As far as I know, "kart" is just a cutesified version of "cart" used in brand and product names.


In English many words sound exactly the same. The difference is the context. (like in Japanese)

CART: Is a Middle English's word, a bit French, a bit Latin, a bit Anglo-Norman. It means the word was used to talk about the common transport in THAT time.

KART: Is 1950s' word and a SHORTENING of go-kart.

Maybe CART is an old fashion word, but in Bitish English country is common nowadays. We're not British, we don't have their habits.

You can improve your English using their own meanings.

When you go to a Cart race, you should use Cart race.

When you go to a Kart race, you should use go-kart.

Maybe it could help you avoing misunderstandings.


Kart with a k is only used for go-kart. Otherwise, it is cart with a c. However, in Britain, Ireland, Australia, and Singapore, the carts that you push in a grocery store to carry groceries as well as the carts you push at the airport to carry your luggage are called "trolleys".


The case of cart vs kart goes beyond its meaning. Lately it is used so incorrectly that the incorrect word is being used at local supermarkets to help customers locate shopping carts. I am sensitive to our communities illiteracy population. It's offensive by all means.

  • Welcome! Your answer doesn't actually answer the question. Can you please put a bit more into your answer in a way that is specific to the question?
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 2:29

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