noun, often attributive
ra·​dio·​car·​bon | \ ˌrā-dē-ō-ˈkär-bən How to pronounce radiocarbon (audio) \

Definition of radiocarbon

: radioactive carbon especially : carbon 14

Examples of radiocarbon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Yet for the earlier Classic period in which the charcoal entered the lake—radiocarbon-dated to between 690 and 700 A.D.—there was no evidence of drought. Tim Vernimmen, National Geographic, "Ancient Maya practiced 'total war' well before climate stress," 5 Aug. 2019 Nuclear testing affects radiocarbon levels, too, and dramatically increased carbon-14 levels starting in the 1950s. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "Radiocarbon helps date ancient objects—but it's not perfect," 12 July 2019 Inorganic materials can’t be dated using radiocarbon analysis, and the method can be prohibitively expensive. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "Radiocarbon helps date ancient objects—but it's not perfect," 12 July 2019 Later, study authors Duncan Garrow of the University of Reading and Fraser Sturt of the University of Southampton took over, radiocarbon-dating pot residue and timbers from the crannogs. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Scotland’s Tiny Artificial Islands Date to the Stone Age," 14 June 2019 At the same time, the Economist notes, radiocarbon testing is so destructive that a sample can rarely be analyzed twice. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Cold War Nuclear Bomb Tests Are Helping Researchers Identify Art Forgeries," 7 June 2019 Based on recent scientific research, the SSEF offers radiocarbon age dating of pearls as a new service to our clients in collaboration with the Federal Institute of Technology. Stellene Volandes, Town & Country, "A Rare Natural Pearl That Once Belonged to a Spanish Princess Is For Sale," 14 May 2019 However, new radiocarbon dating shows that Elasmotherium was made up of much heartier stuff, allowing for its survival. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Unicorns Rhinos Were Real and Lived With Humans, New Study Says," 27 Nov. 2018 Douglas and his colleagues compared the radiocarbon age of the plant waxes in each layer of sediment to the age of tiny plant fossils that had washed into the lake at the same time. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Carbon impact of ancient Maya farming may still be felt," 22 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'radiocarbon.' 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 radiocarbon

1936, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for radiocarbon

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Last Updated

18 Sep 2019

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The first known use of radiocarbon was in 1936

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More Definitions for radiocarbon


ra·​dio·​car·​bon | \ ˌrād-ē-ō-ˈkär-bən How to pronounce radiocarbon (audio) \

Medical Definition of radiocarbon

: radioactive carbon especially : carbon 14

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