Definition of carbuncle in English:



  • 1A severe abscess or multiple boil in the skin, typically infected with staphylococcus bacteria.

    • ‘It stimulates the immune system, restores liver function weakened by alcohol abuse, helps repair damage from gallstones and helps skin disorders such as psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, boils and carbuncles.’
    • ‘They began shortly after I had finished the concerto with an atrocious carbuncle resulting from an insect sting.’
    • ‘Common skin infections include cellulitis, erysipelas, impetigo, folliculitis, and furuncles and carbuncles.’
    • ‘Nor did Dr Guillotin die on The National Razor; he died in 1814 of a rather less theatrical carbuncle on his shoulder.’
    • ‘Usually the staphylococcal bacteria are not concentrated enough to do any harm, but sometimes they pass deeper into the skin to cause boils, abscesses, styes and carbuncles.’
    • ‘Those monstrous carbuncles on his once-handsome face testify to what may well have been a deliberate poisoning.’
    • ‘It relieves menstrual pains, promotes menstruation, treats rheumatic aches and pains, and ripens carbuncles, sores and abscesses.’
    • ‘While leaf paste is used externally against boils and carbuncles, the extract is considered a good remedy for recurring earache.’
    • ‘He added that people suffering from cutaneous anthrax would develop carbuncles on their skin within 10 days after first contact.’
    • ‘It can be made into a salve or the tincture can be painted on boils, felons, carbuncles, abscesses, inflamed acne, cellulitis and other local inflammations.’
    • ‘You see every carbuncle, every missing tooth, every stitch of ragged clothing.’
    • ‘However, one of the Everton lads has a carbuncle on his neck the size of a duck's egg.’
    • ‘Furuncles and carbuncles occur as a follicular infection progresses deeper and extends out from the follicle.’
    • ‘The ripe fruit was used to provide external relief from carbuncles and painful boils and used internally to treat stomach ulcers.’
    • ‘Furuncles are deep, tender nodules on hair-bearing areas that develop from the coalescence of several infected follicles, just as carbuncles are a collection of several furuncles.’
    • ‘They can also be made into an anti-inflammatory poultice and topically applied for boils and carbuncles.’
    • ‘Finally, it can be used for sores, carbuncles and skin ulcerations.’
    • ‘This is particularly true of inflammatory conditions such as boils and carbuncles - painful, pus-filled bumps that form under your skin when bacteria infect one or more of your hair follicles.’
    boil, blister, sore, abscess, pustule, pimple, spot, wart, papule, wen, whitlow, canker
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  • 2A bright red gem, in particular a garnet cut en cabochon.

    • ‘In this world the most glorious of all possessions one could hope to have was that of the carbuncle.’
    • ‘Stones of deep red color like glowing carbuncles are let into gilded woodwork, and Limoges enamels ornament the walls.’
    • ‘Behind the guard was another, but he seemed to be more of a mage, with flowing red robes and an oaken staff with a brilliant carbuncle sapphire in its top.’
    • ‘But the buckle on her belt was the shape of a circle of thorns surrounding a bright red carbuncle, like the tattoo on the nape of her neck.’


Middle English (in carbuncle (sense 2)): from Old French charbuncle, from Latin carbunculus ‘small coal’, from carbo ‘coal, charcoal’.