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 Violent solar flares can cause the ejection of plasmas and solar particles that bombard Earth’s upper atmosphere and may explain the spikes in radiocarbon. Tim Childers, Popular Mechanics, "Far-Off Supernovas Caused Climate Change on Earth, According to Tree Rings," 16 Nov. 2020 Thirty items from the site have also been dated using radiocarbon technology, allowing researchers to create a timeline and see how the tools grew more sophisticated over the centuries. Tim Vernimmen, National Geographic, "Ancient tools show how humans adapted to rainforests," 12 June 2020 Material from the cesspit radiocarbon dated to the 1400s, but Sabin and her colleagues aren’t sure how many people used it. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Archaeologists delved into medieval cesspits to study old gut microbiomes," 6 Oct. 2020 Archaeologists have been radiocarbon dating findings in the Caribbean since the 1950s – when the radiocarbon technique was first discovered. Jessica Stone, The Conversation, "Archaeologists determined the step-by-step path taken by the first people to settle the Caribbean islands," 29 Sep. 2020 These have annual growth rings that scientists can directly tie to calendar years and can also analyze for radiocarbon. Megan I. Gannon, Scientific American, "Long-Awaited Update Arrives for Radiocarbon Dating," 1 Sep. 2020 Other critics have insisted that there must be a period of time that predates the earliest radiocarbon age that anyone has yet found. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "New study challenges popular “collapse” hypothesis for Easter Island," 1 June 2020 In fact, researchers released a major update of the radiocarbon calibration curves this year. Scott Hershberger, Scientific American, "How Do Scientists Determine the Ages of Human Ancestors, Fossilized Dinosaurs and Other Organisms?," 4 Aug. 2020 Part of our job was to see if each of the 2,500 radiocarbon dates available would meet today’s standards. Jessica Stone, The Conversation, "Archaeologists determined the step-by-step path taken by the first people to settle the Caribbean islands," 29 Sep. 2020

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

International Scientific Vocabulary

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Time Traveler for radiocarbon

Time Traveler

The first known use of radiocarbon was in 1936

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Statistics for radiocarbon

Last Updated

20 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Radiocarbon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2020.

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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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