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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
  • carbohydrates are one of the main dietary components.
  • To give up all carbohydrates or all proteins was, he believed, both ridiculous and dangerous.
  • The complex carbohydrates are called polysaccharides.
  • Diets high in sugar or other carbohydrates and allergenic foods increase the inflammatory conditions.
  • If food scientists can create a seedless watermelon, surely there must be a way to take the carbohydrates out of potatoes.
  • Excessive consumption of processed carbohydrates is an even larger contributor to diabetes than obesity.
  • The compound is essential for photosynthesis, a chemical reaction that converts sunlight into carbohydrates.
  • But they also need to take in a fair amount of carbohydrates.
  • carbohydrates are a vital source of energy and critical for brain function.
  • However, they also do not add to satiety that may occur with consumption of simple carbohydrates.
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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