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noun, plural: carbons

The chemical element with an atomic number of 6, and is widely distributed forming organic compounds when combined with hydrogen, oxygen, etc.


Carbon is a polyatomic nonmetal, sometimes considered a metalloid element. It was first discovered by Egyptians and Sumerians (3750 BCE)1 but it was first recognized as an element by Antoine Lavoisier (1789)2 . It is the sixth element in the periodic table. It has a valence of four and an atomic number of 6. Its atomic weight is 12.011.

Carbon is one of the most abundant elements and forms organic compounds. Thus, it is often regarded as the basis of life on earth due to its chemical properties.

Word origin: Latin carbō (charcoal, coal)

Symbol: C

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Related term(s):

1"History of Carbon and Carbon Materials - Center for Applied Energy Research - University of Kentucky". [Link]
2Senese, Fred (2000-09-09). "Who discovered carbon?". Frostburg State University. [Link]