Carbon copy

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Carbon copy is a term that is still in use, though the process that it was originally describing has all but disappeared. We will look at the meaning of the compound word carbon copy, its origins, and some examples of how it is used in sentences.

A carbon copy is an exact duplicate of something. Originally, a carbon copy described a copy of a typed document made by placing a piece of carbon paper between two pieces of typewriter paper, the bottom document was the carbon copy. Carbon paper was invented in the late 1800s. It is composed of dried ink on the bottom side of the paper, and wax on the top side. When the typewriter key strikes the paper, the pressure makes the ink on the carbon paper attach to the carbon copy. Most carbon paper rendered a copy made up of words in purple ink, though black carbon paper and very rarely red carbon paper was used. Literal carbon copies are almost never seen anymore, as typewriters have fallen out of use. Today, the term carbon copy lives on in the English language in two ways. First, the term carbon copy is used figuratively to mean an exact duplicate of something. Second, the abbreviation cc in emails stands for carbon copy, identifying the people to whom a copy of an email has been sent.


Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh Sunday said the ‘farmers’ manifesto’ that AAP released Sunday was a “poor carbon copy” of what his party has already promised. (The Indian Express)

Though the cast here is not meant to be a carbon copy of the original, Washington still has the unenviable task of filling the space occupied with Zen brilliance by Yul Brynner, and falls short. (The Herald Scotland)