car·​nal | \ ˈkär-nᵊl How to pronounce carnal (audio) \

Definition of carnal

1a : relating to or given to crude bodily pleasures and appetites gluttony and other carnal activities
b : marked by sexuality carnal love
2 : bodily, corporeal seen with carnal eyes
3a : temporal carnal weapons the superiority of the spiritual and eternal over the carnal— H. O. Taylor
b : worldly a carnal mind

Other Words from carnal

carnality \ kär-​ˈna-​lə-​tē How to pronounce carnal (audio) \ noun
carnally \ ˈkär-​nə-​lē How to pronounce carnal (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for carnal

carnal, fleshly, sensual, animal mean having a relation to the body. carnal may mean only this but more often connotes derogatorily an action or manifestation of a person's lower nature. gave in to carnal desires fleshly is less derogatory than carnal. a saint who had experienced fleshly temptations sensual may apply to any gratification of a bodily desire or pleasure but commonly implies sexual appetite with absence of the spiritual or intellectual. fleshpots providing sensual delights animal stresses the physical as distinguished from the rational nature of a person. led a mindless animal existence

Examples of carnal in a Sentence

the preacher warned that those who were interested only in carnal pursuits would not see the kingdom of heaven a missionary who tends to the carnal needs of the people as well as to their spiritual concerns
Recent Examples on the Web An unsparing account of the carnal conspiracy between two gloriously human, difficult women: the 21-year-old narrator and the wife of her poetry professor. The Week Staff, The Week, 14 June 2021 Later that same year, he was arrested and convicted of carnal knowledge with a 16-year-old girl. Longreads, Longreads, 2 Nov. 2021 Complicated, agreeable, defiant, conventional, carnal, chaste, nuanced, hypocritical. Maria Sherman,, 30 Sep. 2021 Despite Wilde’s grandstanding and equivocation, there was no gainsaying the testimony of various rent-boys detailing carnal concurrence. Washington Post, 13 Oct. 2021 It’s Motown, the blues, R&B, Afro-Latino jams and praise-the-lord hymns — songs that are loving, healing, spiritual, carnal, buoyant and enraged. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 25 June 2021 Rosemary keeps things light while, on the other end of the spectrum, castoreum creates a carnal cast. Adam Hurly, Robb Report, 1 Oct. 2021 Complicated, agreeable, defiant, conventional, carnal, chaste, nuanced, hypocritical. Maria Sherman,, 30 Sep. 2021 The title track describes various acts of service, both carnal and domestic, Grande might perform for a life partner. Allure, 11 Sep. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'carnal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of carnal

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for carnal

Middle English, from Anglo-French or Late Latin; Anglo-French carnel, charnel, from Late Latin carnalis, from Latin carn-, caro flesh; akin to Greek keirein to cut — more at shear

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Time Traveler for carnal

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The first known use of carnal was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near carnal



carnal abuse

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Last Updated

9 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Carnal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for carnal



English Language Learners Definition of carnal

: of or relating to the body : sexual or sensual

More from Merriam-Webster on carnal

Nglish: Translation of carnal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of carnal for Arabic Speakers


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