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 Since natural gas releases carbon when burned and methane is a potent greenhouse gas on its own, these both exacerbate climate change. Liam Denning, Chron, "Texas railroad commissioner vents at France," 18 Jan. 2021 California’s plan to remove carbon-emitting power sources from its electricity grid entirely by 2045 also inspired the incoming administration. Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times, "Make America California Again? That’s Biden’s plan," 17 Jan. 2021 The valley is losing these gems in favor of carbon-copy apartments and homes. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Owner seeks to demolish historic LDS meetinghouse. West-siders aren’t thrilled.," 17 Jan. 2021 State and local utilities by 2030 aim to cut carbon output in half from 2005 levels and to zero by 2050. Star Tribune, "Minnesota's solar trade tested, but not bowed, by 2020," 15 Jan. 2021 Mixing the layers is important both to cool the ocean by bringing cold water to the surface and to soak up carbon from the atmosphere, which can be stored in deeper water. Eric Niiler, Wired, "2020 Was the One of the Hottest Years on Record," 15 Jan. 2021 Academics say very little forest carbon is actually released in a wildfire. oregonlive, "Wildfire recovery plan for Santiam State Forest garners blowback from all corners," 15 Jan. 2021 Decaying trees also release more carbon, which adds to air pollution, Houser said. David Tarrant, Dallas News, "Dallas-area environmentalists warn invasive beetle could be latest threat to Trinity Forest," 14 Jan. 2021 It's had a number of major accomplishments, including finding evidence the planet once had persistent liquid water, discovering that the planet was once suitable for life and finding organic carbon molecules, the building blocks of life. Sophie Lewis, CBS News, "NASA Curiosity rover celebrates 3,000th day on Mars with stunning panorama of planet," 14 Jan. 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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Time Traveler for carbon

Time Traveler

The first known use of carbon was in 1788

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Statistics for carbon

Last Updated

23 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Carbon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for carbon


How to pronounce carbon (audio)

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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Comments on carbon

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