noun, often attributive
car·​bon | \ ˈkär-bən How to pronounce carbon (audio) \

Definition of carbon

1 : a nonmetallic chemical element with atomic number 6 that readily forms compounds with many other elements and is a constituent of organic compounds in all known living tissues — see Chemical Elements Table
2 : a carbon rod used in an arc lamp
3a : a sheet of carbon paper

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Examples of carbon in a Sentence

a carbon of the document this new digital camera is a carbon of a well-known model costing almost twice as much
Recent Examples on the Web Climate change is a key focus of the leaders' final day of talks on Sunday, and the group is expected to announce new financing measures to help poorer countries reduce carbon emissions. Fox News, 13 June 2021 The change is a vital piece of the country’s plan to eliminate carbon emissions in 30 years. Phred Dvorak, WSJ, 13 June 2021 Johnson, as summit host, is seeking to get financial commitments from the leaders of wealthy nations to help poorer countries reduce their carbon emissions and deal with the impacts of climate change. Washington Post, 11 June 2021 Reducing waste and lowering carbon emissions were recurring themes at this week's Fortune Global Forum, where the consensus was that cutting emissions has become better for business. Sophie Mellor, Fortune, 11 June 2021 Airlines and planemakers face mounting pressure to tackle carbon emissions. Hanna Ziady, CNN, 11 June 2021 Planet-heating carbon emissions are rebounding this year after a fall in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic hit economic activity. Alister Doyle, The Christian Science Monitor, 10 June 2021 An idea hatched by a couple of buddies to reduce urban traffic congestion and carbon emissions took flight Thursday night with the unveiling of the Maker electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft by startup Archer Aviation. Ed Garsten, Forbes, 10 June 2021 By the time Poppe left CMS, the company had retired several coal power plants and set its sights on zeroing out its carbon emissions. J.d. Morris, San Francisco Chronicle, 10 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'carbon.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of carbon

1788, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for carbon

French carbone, from Latin carbon-, carbo ember, charcoal

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Learn More About carbon

Statistics for carbon

Last Updated

16 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Carbon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for carbon



English Language Learners Definition of carbon

: a chemical element that forms diamonds and coal and that is found in petroleum and in all living plants and animals


car·​bon | \ ˈkär-bən How to pronounce carbon (audio) \

Kids Definition of carbon

: a chemical element occurring as diamond and graphite, in coal and petroleum, and in plant and animal bodies


noun, often attributive
car·​bon | \ ˈkär-bən How to pronounce carbon (audio) \

Medical Definition of carbon

: a nonmetallic element found native (as in diamonds and graphite) or as a constituent of coal, petroleum, asphalt, limestone, and organic compounds or obtained artificially (as in activated charcoal) symbol C — see Chemical Elements Table


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