[kahr-been, -bahyn]


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

Origin of carbine

1595–1605; earlier carabine < Middle French: small harquebus, weapon borne by a carabin a lightly armed cavalryman, compared with (e)scarabin gravedigger for plague victims (< Provençal, akin to French escarbot cockchafer, dung beetle ≪ Latin scarabaeus scarab), though semantic change is unclear Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for carbine

rifle, weapon, firearm, fusil

Examples from the Web for carbine

Contemporary Examples of carbine

Historical Examples of carbine

  • A chorus of night cries awoke to the sharp crack of a carbine.

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • At last, by a sudden jerk, he succeeded in wresting his carbine from him.

  • But even if you had missed I had him covered with my carbine.

    The Night Riders

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • As they approached the tan-vats he espied a carbine lying on the ground.

  • Lately, too, we have gone through a course of carbine instruction.

    The Traitors

    E. Phillips (Edward Phillips) Oppenheim

British Dictionary definitions for carbine



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

Word Origin for carbine

C17: from French carabine, from Old French carabin carabineer, perhaps variant of escarrabin one who prepares corpses for burial, from scarabée, from Latin scarabaeus scarab
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 carbine

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper