I read this sentence in my textbook.
"Armed with a torch, the vicar went up into the clock tower to see what was going on."
Is 'armed' the same as 'carry'? Is it commonly used? How to use it?
Ok, the Vicar was armed with a torch is the context of your question. In this context it does mean "carry" as you indicated. It also refers to the defensive posture of the person carrying an item or a concept. Example: "Armed with the knowledge that he could support his position on whether the earth was round or flat the teacher walked calmly into the classroom to face the students."
In this situation the person is prepared for what is going to happen in the classroom and part of that preparation includes carrying the "knowledge" with him in order to confront the situation. In the case of your original sentence the Vicar was more prepared to face whatever he would find up in the clock tower "going on" by better being able to see the way and to see what would be before him because he had "a torch", i.e. because he prepared for it by providing illumination. In effect to "arm" oneself, is to prepare oneself for what one is going to encounter. Other examples: Julie armed herself ahead of time by memorizing the Periodic Table before she entered the classroom to take her first Chemistry examination. Sam armed himself with at least 10 different excuses he had memorized before he stepped into the Principals office to explain his classroom behavior after being summoned by the Principal. Sally armed herself first with an all night study session before taking the math test today.
In all of these examples some measure of PREPARATION for an anticipated event has occurred. The individual has somehow prepared him or her self for a stressful situation that he or she will be facing. If we are talking about a violent situation then preparation involves taking a weapon, but other situations refer to whatever preparation is required before hand... doing what is necessary to be prepared.
Literally, "armed" means "carrying a weapon." It is the same root as in "armament." Nowadays, when a person is described as "armed," the weapon is often a firearm, i.e. a gun using gunpowder.
Figuratively, "armed" can mean "prepared for a difficult task with powerful equipment." The vicar did not want to go up into the dark tower. He "armed" himself with a torch.
Incidentally, there is a British/US usage detail here. In US usage, "torch" usually means something with a burning flame on it. In British usage, it can also mean a battery-powered device that shines a bright beam of light. That is, US "flashlight" = British "torch."
Armed means that you are carrying a weapon or as a saying that you have something that is going to be useful to you, you can use it as a "weapon" to get what you want.
She was armed with a sword / gun / knife.
He was armed with a positive attitude that would help him get a new job.