Definition of caruncle in English:



  • 1A wattle of a bird such as a turkeycock.

    • ‘Adding to what Dominique just said, while feathers are by far the predominant outgrowths there are other bizarre protrusions, and I am not talking about the wattles or the caruncles.’
    • ‘You can even tell when a turkey isn't feeling well by looking at their caruncle or wattle because they become very pale and colorless.’
    comb, plume, tuft, topknot, mane
    View synonyms
  • 2The red prominence at the inner corner of the eye.

    • ‘Systemic effects from eye drops can be reduced by occlusion (finger pressed on the caruncle, which is felt as a lump at the inner corner of the eye) or shutting the eyes for several minutes after putting in the drops.’
  • 3Botany
    A coloured waxy or oily outgrowth from a seed near the micropyle, attractive to ants which aid the seed's dispersal.

    • ‘The ant stopped to examine the gorse seeds, it quickly found the bright orange caruncle and immediately began to bite and gnaw it.’
    • ‘The seed of this plant has a caruncle that may be involved in seed-ant interactions.’


Late 16th century: obsolete French, from Latin caruncula, from caro, carn- ‘flesh’.