The Meaning of Carnal: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of carnal? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word carnal, including its definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word carnal mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the adjective carnal (pronunciation of carnal: ) means related to or given to crude bodily pleasures and appetites. This is often marked by sexuality, sensual delight, or a sexual appetite, and can also refer to something that is bodily, corporeal, temporal, or worldly. The carnal pleasures or carnal cravings often refer to a sexual thirst, hunger, or urges, or other such passions of the body. The connotation of something carnal implies an animal lust or physical need, or a suggestion of eroticism in a censorious way. These attractions refer to sexual needs, an experience of the senses, or a vice of the carnal mind. Carnal uses the suffix ness, both other suffixes like ism and ty can also be added to roots to form different words or parts of speech, like carnality or carnalness

Many different languages aso contain words that mean carnal. You may notice that some of these words look and sound similar to the word carnal. These are called cognates. A cognate, which is a word that looks and sounds similar while retaining the same meaning across languages, is often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin such as Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word carnal is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Finnish: himokas‎
  •  Russian: чувственный‎, плотский‎
  •  Spanish: carnal‎, (sexual) sexual‎, concupiscente‎, libidinoso‎
  •  Polish: cielesny‎ (masc.)
  •  Persian: تنانه‎ (tanâne)
  •  Bulgarian: похотлив‎
  •  Greek: σαρκικός‎
  •  Esperanto: fivolupta‎
  •  Catalan: carnal‎
  •  Welsh: cnawdol‎
  •  French: charnel‎
  •  Portuguese: carnal‎

What are synonyms for the word carnal?

There are a plethora of different words that someone can use in place of the word carnal. These words which have the same definition as the word carnal are called synonyms. Synonyms are a great way to expand your vocabulary and an easy way to avoid repeating yourself in speech or written work. This list of synonyms for the word carnal is provided by Thesaurus.

  • prurient
  •  temporal
  •  fleshly
  •  lecherous
  •  rousing
  •  sexual
  •  hot
  •  sensual
  •  licentious
  •  earthy
  •  voluptuous
  •  corporal
  •  steamy
  •  lewd
  •  lascivious
  •  stimulating
  •  erotic
  •  titillating
  •  amative
  •  libidinous
  •  filthy
  •  salacious
  •  animal
  •  venereal
  •  purple
  •  genital
  •  off-color
  •  worldly
  •  physical
  •  impassioned
  •  aphrodisiac
  •  unchaste
  •  wanton
  •  spicy
  •  lustful
  •  fervid
  •  seductive
  •  suggestive
  •  bawdy
  •  amorous
  •  bodily
  •  kinky
  •  corporeal
  •  amatory
  •  raunchy
  •  raw
  •  concupiscent
  •  vulgar
  •  obscene
  •  blue
  •  impure
  •  erogenous
  •  earthly
  •  romantic
  •  sensuous

There are also a number of different words that have the opposite meaning of the word carnal. These opposite words are called antonyms. Learning antonyms is another great way to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word carnal is also provided by Thesaurus.

  •  pure
  •  prudish
  •  incorrupt
  •  chaste
  •  neat
  •  wholesome
  •  proper
  •  subdued
  •  inexperienced
  •  controlled
  •  monogamous
  •  decent
  •  innocent
  •  platonic
  •  simple
  •  unaffected
  •  spotless
  •  refined
  •  undefiled
  •  clean
  •  unsullied
  •  celibate
  •  virtuous
  •  decorous
  •  stainless
  •  vestal
  •  virginal
  •  modest
  •  impotent
  •  moral
  •  intemerate
  •  immaculate
  •  restrained
  •  uncontaminated
  •  unblemished
  •  continent
  •  elegant
  •  quiet
  •  austere
  •  unstained
  •  unwed

What is the origin of the word carnal?

According to Etymonline, the word carnal has been used since the year 1400 to mean physical, human, or mortal. This comes from the Old North French carnel, Old French carnal and Latin carnālis meaning fleshly. This comes from the Late Latin carnis, meaning of the flesh, and the genitive of the Latin carō/caro, meaning flesh or meat and ālis. This comes from Proto-Indo-European roots; namely, the root sker meaning to cut. The word carnal has been used to mean sensual or pertaining to the passions since the early 15th century. The word has been used to mean worldly or sinful from the mid-fifteenth century. The term carnal knowledge to refer to sexual intercourse has been used from the early 15th century and was used in a legal sense by the 1680s. This word is also used in Middle English.

How can the word carnal be used in a sentence?

The word carnal can be used in many different situations and sentences in the English language. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today. Using words and sentences is a great way to memorize their meaning and add them to your vocabulary. Below are a few examples of how the word carnal can be used in a sentence. 

The sensual dance invoked his carnal desires.

He saw a pair of sensual eyes across the room that peaked his carnal interest.

The students of the bible school were advised to eliminate any carnal desires until marriage. The church thought of it as a sin, and believed that carnal knowledge was only for the purposes of procreation. 

The girl felt that the middle school boys were acting like carnal animals, shouting and screaming while running all over the yard. She found it very immature and opted to focus on her book instead. 

It has been said that music is the only sensual pleasure without vice, but that does not mean that people may not have a carnal, visceral reaction to a certain song. 

Overall, the word carnal means a sexual pleasure or animal instincts related to fleshly desire, rather than the more spiritual aspects of humans. References to carnal mindedness are also used in the Bible in Ephesians, in Romans by the Apostle Paul, Hebrews, John, and Corinthian, according to Emery Horvath, and is related to the other fleshly sin of gluttony. In the past and even now, there were even many states and countries with a criminal law against sodomy and other carnal desires.


  1. carnal: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. CARNAL Synonyms: 32 Synonyms & Antonyms for CARNAL | Thesaurus 
  3. carnal | Origin and meaning of carnal | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  4. Carnal | Definition of Carnal | Merriam-Webster 
  5. What is Carnal Mindedness and Why Is It Deadly 
  6. CHASTE Synonyms: 44 Synonyms & Antonyms for CHASTE | Thesaurus