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

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Other Words from carnal

carnality \ kär-​ˈna-​lə-​tē How to pronounce carnality (audio) \ noun
carnally \ ˈkär-​nə-​lē How to pronounce carnally (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. a slave 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 To be comforted like a creature, while affirmed in your carnal reality — is there a better double antidote to the ambient grief of our moment? Hermione Hoby, New York Times, "Heated Car Seats Are an Antidote to Our Grief," 17 Nov. 2020 Snell was charged last fall with carnal knowledge of a child and taking indecent liberties with a child by a person in a custodial relationship. Justin Jouvenal, Washington Post, "Fairfax County principal charged with failing to report sexual abuse of student," 24 Sep. 2020 This is the kind of carnal affair that’ll appeal to classic steak lovers who want to do something with a little extra character. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "Want to cook the best mail order steaks at home? Here's everything you need to know," 10 June 2020 The soup is notably holistic, as if refusing to take sides, neither frankly carnal nor purely herbaceous but somewhere more intriguingly in between. Ligaya Mishan, New York Times, "At Ho Foods, a Noodle Soup That Nourishes and Transports," 19 Apr. 2018 In short, what appears to be consensual intimacy, in both movies, is an act of deliberate carnal deceit. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "The Alluring Promises of “The Burnt Orange Heresy” and “The Whistlers”," 28 Feb. 2020 Others writhe or sprawl, contributing to a sort of carnal junk yard, though with the homoerotic garnish of one good-looking young man in the background. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "The In-Your-Face Paintings of Peter Saul," 10 Feb. 2020 They were roundly believed to be a carnal, raucous bunch, hell-bent on drinking wine and fornicating. Time, "The Witcher Borrows Heavily From European Folklore. Here Are the Myths That Inspired the Netflix Show's Monsters," 20 Dec. 2019 The moment evolves from one of tender tension to an all-out carnal makeout sesh, only to be interrupted by the seeming wrath of God in the form of a falling picture frame. Samantha Highfill,, "The most memorable shipper moments of 2019," 17 Dec. 2019

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for carnal

Last Updated

28 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Carnal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for carnal


How to pronounce carnal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of carnal

formal : of or relating to the body : sexual or sensual

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