a repository for dead bodies.


of, like, or fit for a charnel; deathlike; sepulchral.

Origin of charnel

1350–1400; Middle English < Middle French < Late Latin carnāle, noun and adj. use of neuter of carnālis 'carnal
Can be confusedChanel channel charnel Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for charnel

Historical Examples of charnel

  • It was a charnel yard on the hill-side, near to one of the town's six gates.

    The Scapegoat

    Hall Caine

  • The city will be a charnel house when these bodies start to decompose.

    The End of Time

    Wallace West

  • The atmosphere of the place was cold and musty and suggestive of a charnel house.

    The Opal Serpent

    Fergus Hume

  • Thy life has left thee, to live in the heart of a daughter of the charnel and the worm.


    Edward Bulwer Lytton

  • Yet that fragrant balm cannot stifle the smell of the charnel house.

    The Day of Wrath

    Maurus Jkai

British Dictionary definitions for charnel



short for charnel house


ghastly; sepulchral; deathly

Word Origin for charnel

C14: from Old French: burial place, from Latin carnālis fleshly, carnal
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 charnel

late 14c., from Old French charnel (12c.) "fleshly," from Late Latin carnale "graveyard," properly neuter of adjective carnalis (see carnal). As an adjective from 1813. The Late Latin word was glossed in Old English as flæschus "flesh-house." Charnel house is attested from 1550s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper