"artificer in timber, one who does the heavier sort of wood-working," c. 1300 (attested from early 12c. as a surname), from Anglo-French carpenter, Old North French carpentier (Old French and Modern French charpentier), from Late Latin (artifex) carpentarius "wagon (maker), carriage-maker" (in Medieval Latin "carpenter," properly an adjective, "pertaining to a cart or carriage," from Latin carpentum "wagon, two-wheeled carriage, cart." This word is from Gaulish, from Old Celtic *carpentom (compare Old Irish carpat, Gaelic carbad "carriage"), which probably is related to Gaulish karros "chariot" (source of car), from PIE root *kers- "to run."
Also from the Late Latin word are Spanish carpintero, Italian carpentiero. Replaced Old English treowwyrhta, which is literally "tree-wright." German Zimmermann "carpenter" is from Old High German zimbarman, from zimbar "wood for building, timber," cognate with Old Norse timbr (see timber). First record of carpenter-bee, which bores into half-rotten wood to deposit its eggs, is from 1795. A carpenter's rule (1690s) is foldable, suitable for carrying in the pocket.