[ kuh-dav-er-uhs ]
/ kəˈdæv ər əs /
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See synonyms for: cadaverous / cadaverousness on Thesaurus.com

of or like a corpse.
pale; ghastly.
haggard and thin.
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Origin of cadaverous

First recorded in 1620–30, cadaverous is from the Latin word cadāverōsus like a corpse. See cadaver, -ous


ca·dav·er·ous·ly, adverbca·dav·er·ous·ness, noun

Words nearby cadaverous

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does cadaverous mean?

Cadaverous is used to describe a person who looks as if they were dead, such as someone who looks especially thin, pale, or bony.

Cadaverous is an adjective form of cadaver—a dead body, especially a dead human body. The word cadaver is sometimes used interchangeably with the word corpse, but cadaver is especially used in a scientific context to refer to a body that is the subject of scientific study or medical use, such as one that will be dissected.

However, cadaverous is not used in a technical way. It’s typically used in fiction stories to describe characters who are particularly pale and thin, especially when they’re a bit spooky. Describing a real person as cadaverous is never nice and can be very offensive.

Cadaverous is most commonly used to describe people, but it can be used to describe other things, such as buildings or organizations.

Example: Dressed in all black, the cadaverous butler added to the feeling of decay that seemed to haunt the old mansion.

Where does cadaverous come from?

The first records of the word cadaverous come from the 1600s. It comes from the Latin cadāverōsus, meaning “like a corpse,” from cadāver, “corpse,” from the Latin verb cadere, “to perish.”

A character who’s described as cadaverous looks like a walking corpse—they’re often pale and very thin. Such a person could also be described as skeletal. These words are often used in stories, but applying them to real people can be very insulting.

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What are some other forms related to cadaverous?

What are some synonyms for cadaverous?

What are some words that share a root or word element with cadaverous



What are some words that often get used in discussing cadaverous?


How is cadaverous used in real life?

Cadaverous is most commonly used in descriptions of fictional characters. Describing a real person as cadaverous is very insulting.



Try using cadaverous!

Which of the following words could be used to describe a character who is said to be cadaverous?

A. thin
B. pale
C. bony
D. all of the above

How to use cadaverous in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cadaverous

/ (kəˈdævərəs) /

of or like a corpse, esp in being deathly pale; ghastly
thin and haggard; gaunt

Derived forms of cadaverous

cadaverously, adverbcadaverousness, noun
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