November 12, 2011
carat (noun)
\KAIR-ut\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: a unit of weight for precious gems (as diamonds) equal to 200 milligrams
How do you use it?
The Hope Diamond, which is on display in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., weighs a whopping 45.5 carats and is one of the largest blue diamonds known.
Are you a word wiz?

Although "carat" is now used in reference to precious stones, the word's origins are more humble. In what do you think the roots of "carat" lie?

It's B that carries the most weight. "Carat" traces back to Greek "keras," meaning "horn." From "keras," the Greeks made "keration," meaning "carob bean" or "small weight." Thousands of years ago, people needed some standard for comparison when weighing precious stones. They found that the seed of the carob tree weighs approximately the same as the smallest gemstone, and they chose the name of this seed to denote one unit for weighing precious stones. From Greek, the word traveled through Arabic, Italian, Middle French, and Middle English to finally become the modern English word "carat."
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