[ kahr-nl ]
See synonyms for: carnalcarnalitycarnalness on

  1. pertaining to or characterized by the flesh or the body, its passions and appetites; sensual: carnal pleasures.

  2. not spiritual; merely human; temporal; worldly: a man of secular, rather carnal, leanings.

Origin of carnal

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Latin carnālis, equivalent to carn- (stem of carō ) “flesh” + -ālis -al1

synonym study For carnal

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.

Other words for carnal

Other words from carnal

  • car·nal·i·ty [kahr-nal-i-tee], /ˌkɑrˈnæl ɪ ti/, car·nal·ness, car·nal·ism, noun
  • car·nal·ly, adverb
  • hy·per·car·nal, adjective
  • hy·per·car·nal·ly, adverb

Words Nearby carnal Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use carnal in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for carnal


/ (ˈkɑːnəl) /

  1. relating to the appetites and passions of the body; sensual; fleshly

Origin of carnal

C15: from Late Latin: relating to flesh, from Latin carō flesh

Derived forms of carnal

  • carnalist, noun
  • carnality, noun
  • carnally, adverb

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