See more synonyms for carnal 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

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin carnālis, equivalent to carn- (stem of carō) flesh + -ālis -al1
Related formscar·nal·i·ty, car·nal·ness, car·nal·ism, nouncar·nal·ly, adverbhy·per·car·nal, adjectivehy·per·car·nal·ly, adverb

Synonyms for carnal

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Synonym study

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. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for carnality

lasciviousness, prurience, lubricity

Examples from the Web for carnality

Historical Examples of carnality

  • They claim that no thought of carnality ever enters into their feelings.

  • Divisions are the outgrowth of carnality and not of the Spirit of God.


    J. W. Byers

  • Paul was not afraid of severe measures where carnality was concerned.

  • And she would take his words of the spirit and make them to pander to her own carnality.

    The Rainbow

    D. H. (David Herbert) Lawrence

  • Their mutual glances should be free from all suggestion of carnality.

    A Guide to Health

    Mahatma Gandhi

British Dictionary definitions for carnality


  1. relating to the appetites and passions of the body; sensual; fleshly
Derived Formscarnalist, nouncarnality, nouncarnally, adverb

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 Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for carnality

early 15c., "sensuality," from Late Latin carnalitas, from Latin carnalis (see carnal). Meaning "state of being flesh, fleshliness" is from mid-15c.



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