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Any carbohydrate with a few (between 3 and about 6 to 10) units of simple sugars (monosaccharides). A wide variety of oligosaccharides are made by partially breaking down polysaccharides. Most of the few naturally occurring oligosaccharides are found in plants; those in animals tend to be combined in glycoproteins.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on oligosaccharide, visit Britannica.com.