• synonyms


[kahr-buhng-kuh l]
See more synonyms for carbuncle on Thesaurus.com
  1. 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.
  2. a gemstone, especially a garnet, cut with a convex back and a cabochon surface.
  3. Also called London brown. a dark grayish, red-brown color.
  4. Obsolete. any rounded red gem.
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  1. having the color carbuncle.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for carbuncle

Historical Examples

  • Tsian Tang brought out a platter of red amber on which lay a carbuncle.

    The Chinese Fairy Book


  • Baron Colditz, the Chancellor, fell ill of a carbuncle in his foot, and died.

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

  • The second row contained a carbuncle, a jasper, and a sapphire.

  • It appears to be the same called Carbuncle Mountain on the map.

    The Maine Woods

    Henry David Thoreau

British Dictionary definitions for carbuncle


  1. an extensive skin eruption, similar to but larger than a boil, with several openings: caused by staphylococcal infection
  2. a rounded gemstone, esp a garnet cut without facets
  3. a dark reddish-greyish-brown colour
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Derived Formscarbuncled, adjectivecarbuncular (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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

carbuncle in Medicine


  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. anthrax
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Related formscar•buncu•lar (-kyə-lər) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.