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a light, gas-operated semiautomatic rifle.
(formerly) a short rifle used in the cavalry.
Contemporary Examples

As you can see on your screens, this young soldier is trying to strangle me with the barrel of his carbine.
This 1979 Novel Predicted Putin’s Invasion Of Crimea Michael Weiss May 17, 2014

Also, by carrying an M-4 carbine, everybody knew I was carrying something that could stitch even U.S. body armor.
Don’t Arm America: A Soldier’s Reply to Connecticut Shooting Tony Schwalm December 17, 2012

Washington pointed to Brown, who was kneeling beside him reloading his carbine, and said, “This is Osawatomie.”
When Robert E. Lee Met John Brown and Saved the Union Michael Korda May 14, 2014

Will he get his carbine free before I reach him, or can I kill him first?
The Real Memorial Day: Oliver Wendell Holmes’s Salute To A Momentous American Anniversary Malcolm Jones May 25, 2014

Historical Examples

In one of the huts was discovered the barrel of a carbine and percussion lock.
In Darkest Africa, Vol. 1; or, The quest, rescue and retreat of Emin, governor of Equatoria Henry Morton Stanley

A chorus of night cries awoke to the sharp crack of a carbine.
The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum

A tingle went through all my bones, and I only longed for my carbine.
The Speaker, No. 5: Volume II, Issue 1 Various

As they approached the tan-vats he espied a carbine lying on the ground.
Three Years in the Federal Cavalry Willard Glazier

The old man’s hands twisted and trembled round the barrel of the carbine, and he swallowed once with some difficulty.
Jason Justus Miles Forman

Lately, too, we have gone through a course of carbine instruction.
The Traitors E. Phillips (Edward Phillips) Oppenheim

a light automatic or semiautomatic rifle of limited range
Also called carabin, carabine. a light short-barrelled shoulder rifle formerly used by cavalry

short rifle, 1580s, from French carabine (Middle French carabin), used of light horsemen and also of the weapon they carried, of uncertain origin, perhaps from Medieval Latin Calabrinus “Calabrian” (i.e., “rifle made in Calabria”). A less-likely theory (Gamillscheg, etc.) connects it to Old French escarrabin “corpse-bearer during the plague,” literally (probably) “carrion beetle,” said to have been an epithet for archers from Flanders.


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