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carat

[kar-uh t]
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noun
  1. a unit of weight in gemstones, 200 milligrams (about 3 grains of troy or avoirdupois weight). Abbreviation: c., ct.
  2. karat.

Origin of carat

1545–55; < Medieval Latin carratus (used by alchemists) < Arabic qīrāṭ weight of 4 grains < Greek kerátion carob bean, weight of 3.333 grains, literally, little horn, equivalent to kerat- (stem of kéras) horn + -ion diminutive suffix
Can be confusedcarat caret carrot karat

karat

or car·at

[kar-uh t]
noun
  1. a unit for measuring the fineness of gold, pure gold being 24 karats fine. Abbreviation: k., kt.

Origin of karat

First recorded in 1550–60; spelling variant of carat
Can be confusedcarat caret carrot karat
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for carat

carat

noun
  1. a measure of the weight of precious stones, esp diamonds. It was formerly defined as 3.17 grains, but the international carat is now standardized as 0.20 grams
  2. Usual US spelling: karat a measure of the proportion of gold in an alloy, expressed as the number of parts of gold in 24 parts of the alloy

Word Origin

C16: from Old French, from Medieval Latin carratus, from Arabic qīrāt weight of four grains, carat, from Greek keration a little horn, from keras horn

karat

noun
  1. US and Canadian a measure of the proportion of gold in an alloy, expressed as the number of parts of gold in 24 parts of the alloyAlso spelt (in Britain and certain other countries): carat

Word Origin

C16: from Old French, from Medieval Latin carratus, from Arabic qīrāt weight of four grains, carat, from Greek keration a little horn, from keras horn
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for carat

n.

also karat, mid-15c., from Middle French carat "measure of the fineness of gold" (14c.), from Italian carato or Medieval Latin carratus, both from Arabic qirat "fruit of the carob tree," also "weight of 4 grains," from Greek keration "carob seed," also the name of a small weight of measure (one-third obol), literally "little horn" diminutive of keras "horn" (see kerato-).

Carob beans were a standard for weighing small quantities. As a measure of diamond weight, from 1570s in English. The Greek measure was the equivalent of the Roman siliqua, which was one-twentyfourth of a golden solidus of Constantine; hence karat took on a sense of "a proportion of one twentyfourth" and became a measure of gold purity (1550s). Eighteen carat gold is eighteen parts gold, six parts alloy. It is unlikely that the classical carat ever was a measure of weight for gold.

karat

n.

variant of carat (q.v.). In U.S., karat is used for "proportion of fine gold in an alloy" and carat for "weight of a precious stone."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper