Definition of carbon in US English:

carbon

noun

  • 1The chemical element of atomic number 6, a nonmetal which has two main forms (diamond and graphite) and which also occurs in impure form in charcoal, soot, and coal.

    • ‘Then again, a diamond is only carbon (with a skin of hydrogen, one molecule thick): why shouldn't it be almost as combustible as coal?’
    • ‘After running his models, Saumon concluded that in Saturn, heavy elements like iron, silicon, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen are concentrated in the core of the planet.’
    • ‘Most plants live with their heads above ground, where they pick up carbon, hydrogen and oxygen floating in the air.’
    • ‘The ozone depleting compounds contain combinations of the elements chlorine, fluorine, bromine, carbon and hydrogen.’
    • ‘We know that the Moon is low on certain chemicals such as hydrogen and carbon.’
    • ‘One possibility of this sort of manipulation could turn carbon into either graphite or diamond.’
    • ‘The action of the micro-organisms will reduce the nitrogen, carbon and phosphate levels of the dam.’
    • ‘The light elements such as hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen are especially plentiful in space.’
    • ‘The amount of carbon in the coal will combine in combustion with oxygen, and it has to go somewhere.’
    • ‘Silicon reacts chemically like carbon although it does not form multiple bonds.’
    • ‘Proteins are composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen; it is the presence of the last of these which distinguishes proteins from the other materials of life.’
    • ‘The biosphere consists of six main elements: carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphur, oxygen, and hydrogen.’
    • ‘Consider the top five constituents of the cosmos, in order of their abundance: hydrogen, helium, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen.’
    • ‘It is composed mostly of isotopes of hydrogen and helium and includes 60 other elements including neon, argon carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and iron.’
    • ‘Every source of soot, every fuel and means of burning it, has its own ratio of soot to organic carbon; few have yet been analyzed.’
    • ‘For common cast iron, the main elements of the chemical composition are carbon and silicon.’
    • ‘On the Earth, it is found only in combination with other elements, such as oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen.’
    • ‘Combustion, or burning, is a chemical process involving carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.’
    • ‘The search for life focuses mostly on planets with liquid water, a heat or energy source, and chemicals like carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.’
    • ‘The plan is that these will determine the abundance and stable isotopic compositions of elements such as hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen.’
    1. 1.1usually as modifier Carbon fiber.
      ‘a bike with a carbon frame’
    2. 1.2 A rod of carbon in an arc lamp.
      • ‘The carbons last approximately 2 hours and then are replaced.’
      • ‘By the 1970's there was no longer a source for the 2 1/2 inch carbons that were required for this light.’
    3. 1.3 A piece of carbon paper or a carbon copy.
      • ‘They glide their tracing wheels (used in sewing) over the top of the carbons.’
      • ‘Also, because the operator making the observation actually does the input, errors caused when someone misinterprets values on poor-quality carbons or misunderstands fine shades of meaning are eliminated.’
      • ‘Luckily, her maid had written receipts and kept the carbons.’
      • ‘Someone could go through your trash to find discarded receipts or carbons and use them to learn your account numbers.’
      • ‘This was in the good old days when you drew your layouts on a massive piece of grid paper outfitted with a carbon layer so there were three copies.’
      • ‘Customers were told to keep their carbons so the account number could not be reused.’
      • ‘All copies either had to be produced with carbons or on ‘skins’ fed through the temperamental duplicator.’
      • ‘The first samizdat were typed carbons, definitely not books, just as the Samizdat you are holding now is definitely not the usual literary journal.’
      • ‘If there is a carbon, also ask for that from the clerk and shred it when you go home.’
      copy, reproduction, duplicate, photocopy, mimeograph, mimeo, replica, likeness, carbon copy, print, reprint, offprint, image
      View synonyms
  • 2Carbon dioxide or other gaseous carbon compounds released into the atmosphere, associated with climate change.

    ‘the level of carbon in the atmosphere has been consistently rising’
    as modifier ‘fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions continued to rise’
    • ‘This litter decomposes more slowly, resulting in a higher carbon accumulation rate.’

Compounds of carbon (organic compounds) form the physical basis of all living organisms. Carbon atoms are able to link with each other and with other atoms to form chains and rings, and an infinite variety of carbon compounds exist

Origin

Late 18th century: from French carbone, from Latin carbo, carbon- ‘coal, charcoal’.

Pronunciation

carbon

/ˈkɑrbən//ˈkärbən/