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[kahr-buhng-kuh l] /ˈkɑr bʌŋ kəl/
Pathology. a painful circumscribed inflammation of the subcutaneous tissue, resulting in suppuration and sloughing, and having a tendency to spread somewhat like a boil, but more serious in its effects.
a gemstone, especially a garnet, cut with a convex back and a cabochon surface.
Also called London brown. a dark grayish, red-brown color.
Obsolete. any rounded red gem.
having the color carbuncle.
Origin of carbuncle
1150-1200; Middle English < Anglo-French < Latin carbunculus kind of precious stone, tumor, literally, live coal, equivalent to carbōn- (stem of carbō) burning charcoal + -culus -cule1, apparently assimilated to derivates from short-vowel stems; cf. homunculus Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for carbuncle
Historical Examples
  • Each ball was of precious stone; one an amethyst, another an African carbuncle, the third an opal, and the fourth an anthracites.

  • The carbuncle of the Dung-Beetle of the Pampas suggested the question.

  • At least, we might gather from this passage that the poet was aware of the distinction between ruby and carbuncle (pyrope garnet).

    Shakespeare and Precious Stones George Frederick Kunz
  • Tsian Tang brought out a platter of red amber on which lay a carbuncle.

  • Mrs. carbuncle first, and then Mr. Bunfit, hurried from their seats to help her.

    The Eustace Diamonds Anthony Trollope
  • Baron Colditz, the Chancellor, fell ill of a carbuncle in his foot, and died.

  • It is very well to have a rock, as Mrs. carbuncle had said, but a rock is not everything.

    The Eustace Diamonds Anthony Trollope
  • The second row contained a carbuncle, a jasper, and a sapphire.

    The Antiquities of the Jews Flavius Josephus
  • Mrs. carbuncle was very fond of the play, and made herself acquainted with every new piece as it came out.

    The Eustace Diamonds Anthony Trollope
  • Page 167, line 67, and seq.—'carbuncle and Balas ruby,' etc.

    Parzival (vol. 2 of 2) Wolfram von Eschenback
British Dictionary definitions for carbuncle


an extensive skin eruption, similar to but larger than a boil, with several openings: caused by staphylococcal infection
a rounded gemstone, esp a garnet cut without facets
a dark reddish-greyish-brown colour
Derived Forms
carbuncled, adjective
carbuncular (kɑːˈbʌŋkjʊlə) adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Latin carbunculus diminutive of carbō coal
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for carbuncle

early 13c., "fiery jewel," from Old North French carbuncle (Old French charbocle, charboncle) "carbuncle-stone," also "carbuncle, boil," from Latin carbunculus "red gem," also "red, inflamed spot," literally "a little coal," from carbo (genitive carbonis) "coal" (see carbon). Originally of rubies, garnets, and other red jewels; in English the word was applied to tumors from late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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carbuncle in Medicine

carbuncle car·bun·cle (kär'bŭng'kəl)

  1. A deep-seated pyogenic infection of several contiguous hair follicles, with formation of connecting sinuses, often preceded or accompanied by fever, malaise, and prostration.

  2. See anthrax.

car·bun'cu·lar (-kyə-lər) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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