carbon dating


Definition of carbon dating

: the determination of the age of old material (such as an archaeological or paleontological specimen) by means of the content of carbon 14

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from carbon dating

carbon-date \ ˈkär-​bən-​ˈdāt How to pronounce carbon-date (audio) \ transitive verb

Examples of carbon dating in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web These include the ability to recover ancient Neanderthal DNA, carbon dating, the use of lasers to record artifact positions in three dimensions and even the analysis of tartar on teeth. Adrian Woolfson, WSJ, "‘Kindred’ Review: Our Neanderthal Cousins," 2 Oct. 2020 By carbon dating the bones, archaeologists showed the Tunnug 1 burials spanned centuries, beginning around A.D. 100. Andrew Curry, National Geographic, "Ancient empire collapse seen in violent injuries in nomad graveyard," 22 Sep. 2020 Like carbon dating, scientists use isotopes and context clues to calculate the approximate age of fossils. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Archaeologists Found 115,000-Year-Old Human Footprints Where They Shouldn't Be," 23 Sep. 2020 Though some experts suspected the remains were fake relics dating to the medieval era, the new carbon dating supports the conclusion that the bones belong to Eanswythe. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Bones Unearthed in English Church Likely Belong to Seventh-Century Saint," 9 Mar. 2020 Scientists will conduct carbon dating tests to determine the whale bones' age. Fox News, "Ancient whale bones unearthed beneath Edinburgh construction site," 20 June 2020 The carbon dating regulation, first proposed in 2017, is meant to close some of those loopholes. Rachel Nuwer, National Geographic, "Japan's new rules for curbing ivory trade won't work, many experts say," 8 Apr. 2019 It’s used in carbon dating of archaeological artifacts because its radioactive decay is slow and predictable. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Researchers Calculated a Whale Shark’s Age Based on Cold War-Era Bomb Tests," 8 Apr. 2020 Goldfinger concedes that carbon dating is an inexact science and earthquakes that appear simultaneous in the record gleaned from the sediment cores could have in fact occurred years or even decades apart. oregonlive, "Cascadia Subduction Zone could trigger San Andreas quakes, OSU expert says," 6 Dec. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of carbon dating

1951, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about carbon dating

Time Traveler for carbon dating

Time Traveler

The first known use of carbon dating was in 1951

See more words from the same year

Statistics for carbon dating

Last Updated

8 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Carbon dating.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for carbon dating

carbon dating


English Language Learners Definition of carbon dating

technical : a scientific way of finding the age of something that is very old (such as a dinosaur bone) by measuring the amount of certain forms of carbon in it

Comments on carbon dating

What made you want to look up carbon dating? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!