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Chemistry. a widely distributed element that forms organic compounds in combination with hydrogen, oxygen, etc., and that occurs in a pure state as diamond and graphite, and in an impure state as charcoal. Symbol: C; atomic weight: 12.011; atomic number: 6; specific gravity: (of diamond) 3.51 at 20°C; (of graphite) 2.26 at 20°C.
carbon dioxide or other carbon compounds that are emitted into the atmosphere and cause rising temperatures:
the carbon produced by burning fossil fuels.
carbon copy.
a sheet of carbon paper.

the carbon rod through which current is conducted between the electrode holder and the arc in carbon arc lighting or welding.
the rod or plate, composed in part of carbon, used in batteries.

pertaining to or noting the element carbon or any of its compounds, especially carbon dioxide:
to reduce carbon emissions.
Contemporary Examples

Instead, we need comprehensive policies, like a price on carbon.
Keystone Pipeline Is D.C.’s Dumbest Debate Claire Casey May 11, 2014

China has been a leading source of dodgy carbon offsets used by the EU carbon trading scheme.
What Are We Going to Do About Carbon? Megan McArdle June 24, 2013

EnerNOC proudly keeps a running ticker of carbon emissions saved through its reduction and efficiency work with customers.
EnerNOC Helps Keeps Lights on During Heat Waves Through Demand Response Edward Ferguson July 19, 2013

No Impact Manby Colin Beavan A “liberal schlub” attempts to live in New York without a carbon footprint for a year.
The Daily Beast Recommends The Daily Beast September 7, 2009

I quite agree that we should price the negative externalities of carbon, preferably through a carbon or source-fuels tax.
Would Putting a Price on Carbon Pave the Way for Electric Cars? Megan McArdle January 21, 2013

Historical Examples

Protochloride of carbon does not conduct nor suffer decomposition.
Experimental Researches in Electricity, Volume 1 Michael Faraday

“Burning” means that the carbon in the wood unites with the oxygen gas in the air.
Diggers in the Earth Eva March Tappan

In the lungs the carbon dioxid is exchanged for the free oxygen we have just inhaled, and we exhale the carbon dioxid.
Common Science Carleton W. Washburne

There are two styles in common use, the carbon and the tungsten lamp.
Electricity for the farm Frederick Irving Anderson

The Leclanché Cell is an open circuit cell in which carbon and zinc are the plates.
The Study of Elementary Electricity and Magnetism by Experiment Thomas M. St. John


a nonmetallic element existing in the three crystalline forms: graphite, diamond, and buckminsterfullerene: occurring in carbon dioxide, coal, oil, and all organic compounds. The isotope carbon-12 has been adopted as the standard for atomic wt; carbon-14, a radioisotope with a half-life of 5700 years, is used in radiocarbon dating and as a tracer. Symbol: C; atomic no: 6; atomic wt: 12.011; valency: 2, 3, or 4; relative density: 1.8–2.1 (amorphous), 1.9–2.3 (graphite), 3.15–3.53 (diamond); sublimes at 3367±25°C; boiling pt: 4827°C
(as modifier): a carbon compound

short for carbon paper, carbon copy
a carbon electrode used in a carbon-arc light or in carbon-arc welding
a rod or plate, made of carbon, used in some types of battery

non-metallic element, 1789, coined 1787 in French by Lavoisier as charbone, from Latin carbonem (nominative carbo) “a coal, glowing coal; charcoal,” from PIE root *ker- (4) “heat, fire, to burn” (cf. Latin cremare “to burn;” Sanskrit krsna “black, burnt,” kudayati “singes;” Lithuanian kuriu “to heat,” karštas “hot,” krosnis “oven;” Old Church Slavonic kurjo “to smoke,” krada “fireplace, hearth;” Russian ceren “brazier;” Old High German harsta “roasting;” Gothic hauri “coal;” Old Norse hyrr “fire;” Old English heorð “hearth”).

Carbon 14, long-lived radioactive isotope used in dating organic deposits, is from 1936. Carbon dating (using carbon 14) is recorded from 1958. Carbon cycle is attested from 1912. Carbon footprint was in use by 2001. Carbon paper (soon to be obsolete) is from 1895.

carbon car·bon (kär’bən)
Symbol C
A nonmetallic element occuring in many inorganic and in all organic compounds, existing as graphite and diamond and as a constituent of coal, limestone, and petroleum, and capable of chemical self-bonding to form a number of important molecules. Atomic number 6; atomic weight 12.01115; sublimation point above 3,500°C; melting point 3,550°C; specific gravity of amorphous carbon 1.8 to 2.1, of diamond 3.15 to 3.53, of graphite 1.9 to 2.3; valence 2, 3, 4.
Symbol C
A naturally abundant, nonmetallic element that occurs in all organic compounds and can be found in all known forms of life. Diamonds and graphite are pure forms, and carbon is a major constituent of coal, petroleum, and natural gas. Carbon generally forms four covalent bonds with other atoms in larger molecules. Atomic number 6; atomic weight 12.011; sublimation point above 3,500°C; boiling point 4,827°C; specific gravity of amorphous carbon 1.8 to 2.1, of diamond 3.15 to 3.53, of graphite 1.9 to 2.3; valence 2, 3, 4. See Periodic Table.

carbonaceous adjective

A chemical element; its symbol is C. The carbon nucleus has six protons and six or more neutrons; six electrons are in orbit around the carbon nucleus. (See hydrocarbons and organic molecules.)

Note: Carbon forms the basis for all living tissue.


Read Also:

  • Carbon-12

    the isotopic carbon atom that comprises 99 percent of naturally occurring carbon, and that since 1961 has been used as the standard for atomic weight by representing a unit of 12.00000. carbon 12 A stable isotope of carbon, having six protons and six neutrons in the nucleus. Carbon 12 makes up most naturally occurring carbon.

  • Carbon-13

    the stable isotope of carbon having an atomic mass number 13, used as a tracer.

  • Carbon-14

    radiocarbon (def 1). Historical Examples The case of carbon-14 is an example of a permanent man-made modification of the environment. Atoms, Nature, and Man Neal O. Hines carbon 14 A naturally occurring radioactive isotope of carbon having six protons and eight neutrons in the nucleus. Carbon 14 is important in dating archaeological and biological remains […]

  • Carbon-14 dating

    radiocarbon dating.

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