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 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 In his telling, Murnau and Schreck depend on each other for the fulfillment of their strongest needs, which, for Murnau, is an aesthetic one realized carnally and, for Schreck, a carnal one realized aesthetically. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "What to Stream This Weekend: Willem Dafoe in “Shadow of the Vampire”," 18 Oct. 2019 News outlets report 18-year-old Javionne Thomas is charged with felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Sex crime suspect says underage girl’s family attacked him," 19 Sep. 2019 The song that got the loudest audience applause was a comic relief number performed by Staudenmayer’s Vlad and Countess Lily (a perfectly silly Tari Kelly), past lovers who reunite in a Paris ballroom for an inspired bit of carnal tomfoolery. Randy Mcmullen, The Mercury News, "Review: ‘Anastasia’ in SF works better as fable than as musical," 5 Sep. 2019 In fact, the most carnal scenes reveal the most about what these women want and how complicated that want can be. Elizabeth Flock, Washington Post, "Women and desire: It’s about so much more than sex," 26 July 2019 The 74-year-old Manassas man was arrested June 25 and charged with carnal knowledge. Lisa M. Bolton, Washington Post, "Prince William crime report," 3 July 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

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Carnal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Feb. 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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More from Merriam-Webster on carnal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for carnal

Spanish Central: Translation of carnal

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Britannica English: Translation of carnal for Arabic Speakers

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