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 The new 2021 Nissan GT-R T-spec is a limited edition that adopts bodywork from the Track Edition and the carbon-ceramic brakes from the NISMO while using the Premium model’s 565-hp version of the twin-turbo V-6. Caleb Miller, Car and Driver, 14 Sep. 2021 The government has invested strongly in R&D, especially for the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. Ian Bremmer, Time, 10 Sep. 2021 The carbon capture element in particular could be key to securing the vote of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Ella Nilsen, CNN, 9 Sep. 2021 Here is a completely true statement: Between 2015 and 2019, oil and gas firms doubled the share of their capital spending going to renewables and carbon-capture technologies. Sidney Fussell, Wired, 18 Aug. 2021 Things like nuclear projects, carbon capture, hydrogen, and energy storage. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, 11 Aug. 2021 Sempra officials say the company is looking to reduce methane emissions, develop carbon capture and storage projects, and add hydrogen to infrastructure at its LNG facilities. Kelly G. Richardson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Aug. 2021 The plan also will call for investing in carbon capture and storage technology for natural gas. New York Times, 5 Aug. 2021 Switching from coal or oil to natural gas would net a 30 percent emissions reduction, and tacking on carbon-capture technologies might slash the greenhouse gases these dirty, inefficient plants emit by almost 50 percent. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, 4 Aug. 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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Dictionary Entries Near carbon



carbon 12

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Statistics for carbon

Last Updated

20 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Carbon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 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

More from Merriam-Webster on carbon

Nglish: Translation of carbon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of carbon for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about carbon


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