[kahr-neel-yuh n]


a red or reddish variety of chalcedony, used in jewelry.

Also cornelian.

Origin of carnelian

1685–95; variant (with a of carnation) of cornelian, Middle English cornel(ine) (< Middle French, probably equivalent to Old French cornele cornel cherry + -ine -ine1) + -ian Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for carnelian

Historical Examples of carnelian

  • This tomb contained also a string of beads, barrel beads of lapis lazuli, carnelian and gold foil, and small discs of gold.

    El Kab

    J.E. Quibell

  • He examined the carnelian band encircling the six-inches of evanescent happiness.

  • Thus crystal lightened his face, and carnelian strengthened his steps.

  • It is of alabaster, inlaid with agate, carnelian, and jasper.

  • All built of precious stones; carnelian, of which you make your seals; as sure as I'm a sinner saved.

    The Young Duke

    Benjamin Disraeli

British Dictionary definitions for carnelian



a red or reddish-yellow translucent variety of chalcedony, used as a gemstone

Word Origin for carnelian

C17: variant of cornelian, from Old French corneline, of uncertain origin; car- spelling influenced by Latin carneus flesh-coloured
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 carnelian

"red variety of chalcedony," variant of cornelian, altered by influence of Latin carnem "flesh" because of its color.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper