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[kar-uh t] /ˈkær ət/
a unit for measuring the fineness of gold, pure gold being 24 karats fine.
Abbreviation: k., kt.
Also, carat.
1550-60; spelling variant of carat
Can be confused
carat, caret, carrot, karat. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for karat
  • Depending on what karat it is, it should be a certain color and weight.
  • The karat quality marking tells you what proportion of gold is mixed with the other metals.
  • If the copper in low-karat gold dissolves, the gold remains behind, but now it is full of microscopic holes and looks darker.
  • karat works the idea of purity of a substance and carat is expressing how much weight in a gemstone.
British Dictionary definitions for karat


(US & Canadian) a measure of the proportion of gold in an alloy, expressed as the number of parts of gold in 24 parts of the alloy Also spelt (in Britain and certain other countries) carat
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 karat

variant of carat (q.v.). In U.S., karat is used for "proportion of fine gold in an alloy" and carat for "weight of a precious stone."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for karat

a measure of the fineness (i.e., purity) of gold. It is spelled carat outside the United States but should not be confused with the unit used to measure the weight of gems, also called carat. A gold karat is 124 part, or 4.1667 percent, of the whole, and the purity of a gold alloy is expressed as the number of these parts of gold it contains. Thus, an object that contains 16 parts gold and 8 parts alloying metal is 16-karat gold, and pure gold is 24-karat gold.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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