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carat

[kar-uh t] /ˈkær ət/
noun
1.
a unit of weight in gemstones, 200 milligrams (about 3 grains of troy or avoirdupois weight).
Abbreviation: c., ct.
2.
Origin of carat
1545-1555
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 confused
carat, caret, carrot, karat.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for carat

carat

/ˈkærət/
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
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
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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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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7
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