Carbon Copy

Meanings of “Carbon Copy”

The phrase “carbon copy” means an exact copy which is exactly similar to the first one. It also means similarity that is exact and beyond any doubt. It is said in the sense of exact copy or exact imitation. The term was and is still used to make copies of typewritten documents.

The paper was initially developed for blind people so that they could write without needing ink or pen. It is a thing paper coated with the combination of pigment and wax. It was invented by Ralph Wedgwood who referred to it as ‘carbonated paper’ in the year 1806.

Origin of “Carbon Copy”

The phrase “carbon copy” was derived from the carbon paper used to create copies of the written documents. The first printed example of the use of this phrase was found in The Burlington Haw-Eye by J. L. W. published in 1878. It was then reprinted and republished in Chicago Post, a newspaper. It was referred to as “carbon copy-book” in that paper. Since then, it has become a popular term.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

A Carbon Copy by Romeo Della Valle

Rubbish, written rubbish
I can’t show it to anyone I know
They’ll get the wrong idea,
They’ll think I am fatalistic,
A desperate soul…

(But isn’t he clever!)

Too bad he can’t control his thoughts
They should be more like ours
We are society, the community,
We dictate the acceptable attitude,
The right way to think and write…
But who-are we
But individuals, first
And finally individuals
Suffocating from individualism…

Or lack of it-…!

Showing the individualism of an individual, the poet beautifully portrays his own dilemma of individuality. He thinks that though others shape the identity of the poet, each person is stuck in his own individuality. Sometimes, it seems that each individual is a carbon copy of another and yet they feel “suffocating from individualism.” The phrase used as the title of this poem shows its meanings when the poet says that we are all individuals, or in other words, carbon copies of each other.

Example #2

Carbon Copy by Layla Marie

Are so underrated
And Unappreciated
Not only are they beautiful
With their yellow petals
Pop, Pop, Popping
From the ground,
They can cure us
Heal our hearts
The dark thoughts in our minds
They’re worth
More than being torn
Into a sad confetti
That even the cheeriest person
Would not throw
They offer so much to
the world
If only
We’d stop cutting
Them down.

The poet describes the sad truth of dandelions which are not only underrated but also unappreciated for their beauty. Their beauty lies in their similarity with each other. They are all described as carbon copies of each other.  The meanings of the phrase become clear through this metaphorical representations.

Example #3

Carbon Copy by Terri Talley Venters

A good analogy is the carbon copy. Although the copy looks the same as the original, it will never be a perfect match. Imperfections in the paper or fingerprints on the glass, even in the most sterile environment will lead to slight variations. These slight variations are impossible to control.

The writer presents carbon copy as an analogy describing it is a copy with few imperfections which show that it is a carbon copy. The analogy means comparing two things for similarities and check for variations. According to the writer, the carbon copies will always have differences, just like fingerprints.

Example #4

Carbon Copy: How Life Gets Better, One Step at a Time by Anthony Magestro

This is a beautiful autobiography of a character named ‘T’ who suffers from bouts of anxiety and chronic depression, leading him to become a school dropout, struggling to survive. However, it so happens that he lands in the world rife with digital technological onslaught where he finds survival, friendship, and empathy hard to come by. The situation of the young man seems to have been inspired by the story of Werther of Goethe. Hence, it has been titled as a carbon copy.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “Nelson is a carbon copy of his father.”

Example #2: “Tina and Mina are twins, and they take after their mother. If you put the mother’s image when she was in young and the twins’ now, they are her carbon copy.”

Example #3: “Forensic science can easily prove that they are no carbon copies, even twins have unique fingerprints and even a weapon ”

Example #4: “They are too many counterfeits in the art world. Susan’s job is to observe carbon copies of every artwork and know the difference. She’s an expert.”

Example #5: “Don’t buy carbon copies, please. If you think you’ll save money, you are dead wrong.”