Carrot, carat, karat, caret

Karat applies to gold (as a measure of fineness), and carat applies to precious stones (as a unit of weight, equaling 200 milligrams). A carrot is an orange vegetable. A caret is a proofreading symbol (^) used to indicated where something should be inserted.

Some dictionaries list karat and carat as variants of each other, but that’s just because the words have been confused so often for so long that there’s almost no point in trying to keep them separate. Careful writers can keep them separate, though.

For example, these writers use karat and carat correctly:

The only coins affected in this round of price reductions were the Mint’s 24-karat American Buffalo Gold and First Spouse Gold Coins. []

Buyers were offered a range of goods of various sizes and qualities with the largest diamond being a 21-carat diamond. [IDEX Online]

For the final three months of the year, Gemfields churned out 5.9 million carats. [Interactive Investor]

2 thoughts on “Carrot, carat, karat, caret”

  1. The British Assay office has been using “carat” for gold fineness since 1300 and they still do. As does the British jewellery trade. It’s their language so I don’t know how you find “confusion”.

  2. The Karat spelling (which gets a red wiggly line in spell-check – Microsoft is American!) is used only in America, it’s a dumb habit, presumably anchored in a “We’ve won a terrorist insurgency against the hated crown, lets bugger-about the language” mentality. The rest of the world uses Carat / C / ct. for both gem weight and gold purity, but I guess if the Americans tried to change back now they’d write it with two ‘r’s and an o-t and look even dumber than they do using the k! Can I buy a gun with that?


Leave a Comment