pertaining to or characterized by the flesh or the body, its passions and appetites; sensual: carnal pleasures.
not spiritual; merely human; temporal; worldly: a man of secular, rather carnal, leanings.
Origin of carnal
1350–1400; Middle EnglishRelated formscar·nal·i·ty, car·nal·ness, car·nal·ism, nouncar·nal·ly, adverbhy·per·car·nal, adjectivehy·per·car·nal·ly, adverb
< Latin carnālis,
equivalent to carn-
(stem of carō
) flesh + -ālis -al1
1. Carnal, sensual, fleshly, animal all refer to bodily rather than rational or spiritual aspects of humans. Carnal, although it may refer to the body as opposed to the spirit, often refers to sexual needs or urges: carnal cravings, attractions, satisfactions. Sensual implies a suggestion of eroticism: sensual eyes; a sensual dance; it may also refer to experience of the senses: a sensual delight. Fleshly may refer to any physical need or appetite, sex as well as hunger and thirst: the fleshly sin of gluttony; fleshly yearnings. Animal refers to sexual appetites in a censorious way only; it may also describe pleasing or admirable physical characteristics or appearance: animal lust; to move with animal grace.
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
Related Words for carnalsensuous
British Dictionary definitions for carnal
Derived Formscarnalist, nouncarnality, nouncarnally, adverb
relating to the appetites and passions of the body; sensual; fleshly
Word Origin for carnal
C15: from Late Latin: relating to flesh, from Latin carō flesh
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for carnal
c.1400, "physical, human, mortal," from Old French carnal and directly from Medieval Latin carnalis "natural, of the same blood," from Latin carnis "of the flesh," genitive of caro "flesh, meat" (see carnage). Meaning "sensual" is from early 15c.; that of "worldly, sinful" is from mid-15c. Carnal knowledge is attested from early 15c. and was in legal use by 1680s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper