There are 3 main definitions of carbon in English:

Share this entry

Share this page

carbon1

Line breaks: car¦bon
Pronunciation: /ˈkɑːb(ə)n
 
/

noun

1 [mass noun] The chemical element of atomic number 6, a non-metal which has two main forms (diamond and graphite) and which also occurs in impure form in charcoal, soot, and coal. (Symbol: C)
Example sentences
  • Combustion, or burning, is a chemical process involving carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.
  • It is composed mostly of isotopes of hydrogen and helium and includes 60 other elements including neon, argon carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and iron.
  • Consider the top five constituents of the cosmos, in order of their abundance: hydrogen, helium, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen.
1.1 [usually as modifier] Carbon fibre: a bike with a carbon frame
1.2 [count noun] A rod of carbon in an arc lamp.
Example sentences
  • The carbons last approximately 2 hours and then are replaced.
  • By the 1970's there was no longer a source for the 2 1/2 inch carbons that were required for this light.
1.3 [count noun] A piece of carbon paper or a carbon copy.
Example sentences
  • This was in the good old days when you drew your layouts on a massive piece of grid paper outfitted with a carbon layer so there were three copies.
  • All copies either had to be produced with carbons or on ‘skins’ fed through the temperamental duplicator.
  • If there is a carbon, also ask for that from the clerk and shred it when you go home.
2Carbon dioxide or other gaseous carbon compounds released into the atmosphere, associated with climate change: the level of carbon in the atmosphere has been consistently rising [as modifier]: fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions continued to rise
More example sentences
  • This litter decomposes more slowly, resulting in a higher carbon accumulation rate.

Compounds of carbon (organic compounds) form the physical basis of all living organisms. Carbon atoms are able to link with each other and with other atoms to form chains and rings, and an infinite variety of carbon compounds exist

Origin

late 18th century: from French carbone, from Latin carbo, carbon- 'coal, charcoal'.

More
  • anthracite from (late 16th century):

    Originally an anthracite was a gem described by Pliny as resembling coals. The word is from Greek anthrakitēs, from anthrax, anthrak- ‘coal’ or ‘carbuncle’ (meaning both a red gem like a glowing coal, and a swelling that looks like one). The same word is the source of the disease anthrax (Late Middle English) which causes black lesions in humans. Carbuncle (Middle English) itself keeps the same image, coming from Latin carbunculus ‘small coal’ from carbo ‘coal, charcoal’, the source of words such as carbon (late 18th century).

Derivatives

carbonless

1
adjective
Example sentences
  • One particular use is in carbonless copy papers.
  • As compared with martensite-hardenable carbon-containing steels, carbonless maraging steels show, for the same strength, a substantially greater resistance to brittle fracture, which is their most remarkable merit.
  • Special construction forms (for example, tractor-feed, carbonless, and accountable forms) and pamphlets intended for use in the field were still being printed.

Words that rhyme with carbon

chlorofluorocarbon, graben, hydrocarbon, Laban, radiocarbon

Definition of carbon in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

There are 3 main definitions of carbon in English:

Share this entry

Share this page

carbon-122

Line breaks: carbon-12

noun

[mass noun]
The commonest natural carbon isotope, of mass 12. It is the basis for the accepted scale of atomic mass units.
Example sentences
  • All life needs Carbon 12 to live, all plants and animals.
  • In 1961 the isotope carbon-12 was selected to replace oxygen as the standard relative to which the atomic weights of all the other elements are measured.
  • The variability of the carbon-13/carbon-12 ratio in honeys was evaluated preliminary to use of the ratio to detect the addition of high-fructose corn syrup.

Definition of carbon in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

There are 3 main definitions of carbon in English:

Share this entry

Share this page

carbon-143

Line breaks: carbon-14

noun

[mass noun]
A long-lived naturally occurring radioactive carbon isotope of mass 14, used in carbon dating and as a tracer in biochemistry.
Example sentences
  • After the organism dies and becomes a fossil, carbon-14 continues to decay without being replaced. To measure the amount of radiocarbon left in a fossil.
  • Carbon-14 atoms are created when cosmic rays from the sun collide with atoms in the atmosphere. Learn about carbon-14 atoms and carbon-14 atom creation.
  • When the organism dies, it stops taking in any new carbon, and the amount of carbon-14 inside it gradually decreases as it decays.

Definition of carbon in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.