Definition of carnal in English:



  • Relating to physical, especially sexual, needs and activities.

    ‘carnal desire’
    • ‘And yet to me to love in a carnal sense was at any rate to enjoy a triumph over countless rivals.’
    • ‘In these works, the wolf-man emerges as a kind of romantic anti-hero, torn between social mores and carnal desire.’
    • ‘He took up with a girl who, as well as carnal favours, supplied him with rationed beer and contraband Craven As.’
    • ‘Here you will find a room of elegantly erotic mosaics, and sentimentally carnal ceramics.’
    • ‘Sensuality is only carnal when it is used indiscriminately, for self-defeating gratification.’
    • ‘I wish they would spend time making the characters as real as their carnal activities.’
    • ‘The King portrayed a female vagrant, complete with a garbage bag dress, who goes after a man in hope of satisfying her carnal desires.’
    • ‘They must curb their carnal cravings and submit to the will of the Lord.’
    • ‘Islam requires that both women and men adopt modest dress that does not inflame carnal desire.’
    • ‘But in this struggle it is not the carnal desires that always triumph as some people imagine.’
    • ‘The videos apparently distract the viewer's attention from the song to the meaningless portrayal of carnal desires.’
    • ‘This scene gives us our first sighting of Lord Summerisle as well as introducing the more carnal aspects of island life.’
    • ‘The pair were so engrossed in their carnal activities that they did not even notice Loren.’
    • ‘Satin is sensual and carnal (think satin sheets), but also associated with ritual.’
    • ‘The majority of the men who frequent dance-halls go there with nothing but carnal thoughts in their minds.’
    • ‘For him, though, there's no competition between carnal and spiritual desires.’
    • ‘Shopping in our humble opinions is a divine pleasure in its own right and its reputation can only be sullied by likening it to more carnal activity.’
    • ‘The Wooden Frock is from the Cinderella shelf of the library, the slipper here replaced by the more carnal symbol of a wedding ring.’
    • ‘When Sam's not being offered carnal delights, he is being offered other vices.’
    • ‘It is carnal need, which, by coincidence, is an important part of the expression of love.’
    sexual, sensual, erotic, lustful, lascivious, libidinous, lecherous, licentious, lewd, prurient, salacious, coarse, gross, lubricious, venereal
    View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Christian Latin carnalis, from caro, carn- ‘flesh’.