[ kahr-boh ]
/ ˈkɑr boʊ /
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noun, plural car·bos.Informal.
a food having a high carbohydrate content.
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Origin of carbo

By shortening; cf. -o

Other definitions for carbo (2 of 2)


a combining form used in the names of chemical compounds in which carbon is present: carbohydrate.
Also especially before a vowel, carb-.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does carbo- mean?

The combining form carbo- is used like a prefix meaning “carbon.” It is often used in scientific terms, especially in chemistry.

The form carbo- ultimately comes from Latin carbō, meaning “charcoal.” Yes, charcoal. The dishes carbonara and carbonade are also related to the Latin carbō.

The Greek translation of Latin carbō is ánthrax, “charcoal” or “carbuncle,” which is the source of the word anthrax. Find out more at our entry for the word.

What are variants of carbo-?

When combined with words or word elements that begin with a vowel, carbo- becomes carb-, as in carbene. Want to know more? Read our Words That Use article for carb-.

Examples of carbo-

An example of a word you may have encountered that features carbo- is carbohydrate, “any of a class of organic compounds made of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen that form the supporting tissues of plants and are important food for animals and people.”

We know carbo- means “carbon,” while the -hydrate portion of the word refers to “combined with or contains water,” from Greek hýdōr, meaning “water.” Carbohydrate literally translates to “carbon combined with water.”

What are some words that use the combining form carbo-?

What are some other forms that carbo- may be commonly confused with?

Break it down!

The word cyclic in chemistry means “of or relating to a compound that contains a closed ring of atoms.” With this in mind, what does the chemistry term carbocyclic mean?

How to use carbo in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for carbo


before a vowel carb-

combining form
carboncarbohydrate; carbonate
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