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[kahr-boh-hahy-dreyt, -buh-] /ˌkɑr boʊˈhaɪ dreɪt, -bə-/
any of a class of organic compounds that are polyhydroxy aldehydes or polyhydroxy ketones, or change to such substances on simple chemical transformations, as hydrolysis, oxidation, or reduction, and that form the supporting tissues of plants and are important food for animals and people.
Origin of carbohydrate
1865-70; carbo- + hydrate
Related forms
noncarbohydrate, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for carbohydrates
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Historical Examples
  • At the same time an increase in the carbohydrates may assist in overcoming the condition.

    Dietetics for Nurses Fairfax T. Proudfit
  • But it did not ignore the lesser potentials of metal and clumps of carbohydrates.

    The Leech Phillips Barbee
  • However, it is like other carbohydrates in that in solution it ferments.

    Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 2 Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences
  • These points have to be considered in judging the digestibility of these carbohydrates.

  • See that the proportion of proteid is one part to four of carbohydrates and fats.

British Dictionary definitions for carbohydrates


any of a large group of organic compounds, including sugars, such as sucrose, and polysaccharides, such as cellulose, glycogen, and starch, that contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, with the general formula Cm(H2O)n: an important source of food and energy for animals Informal term carb
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 carbohydrates



1851, from carbo-, comb. form of carbon, + hydrate (n.), denoting compound produced when certain substances combine with water, from Greek hydor "water" (see water (n.1)).

The name carbohydrate was given to these compounds because, in composition, they are apparently hydrates of carbon. In structure, however, they are far more complex. [Flood]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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carbohydrates in Medicine

carbohydrate car·bo·hy·drate (kär'bō-hī'drāt')
Any of a group of organic compounds that includes sugars, starches, celluloses, and gums and serves as a major energy source in the diet of animals; they are produced by photosynthetic plants and contain only carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, usually in the ratio 1:2:1.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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carbohydrates in Science
Any of a large class of organic compounds consisting of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, usually with twice as many hydrogen atoms as carbon or oxygen atoms. Carbohydrates are produced in green plants by photosynthesis and serve as a major energy source in animal diets. Sugars, starches, and cellulose are all carbohydrates.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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carbohydrates in Culture

carbohydrates definition

Substances composed of long chains of oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon molecules. Sugar, starch, and cellulose are all carbohydrates. In the human body, carbohydrates play a major role in respiration; in plants, they are important in photosynthesis.

Note: Carbohydrates in food provide energy for the body and, if present in excess, are stored as fat.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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