Definition of carnassial in US English:



  • Denoting the large upper premolar and lower molar teeth of a carnivore, adapted for shearing flesh.

    • ‘The diagnostic character for Carnivora is the carnassial pair, the fourth upper premolar and first lower molar, which in this group have been modified as shearing blades for effective slicing of meat.’
    • ‘These teeth are referred to as the carnassial pair.’
    • ‘The dimensions of the lower fourth premolar and lower carnassial tooth as well as the morphology of the mandibular ramus of the specimen from South Turkwel unequivocally identify it as an earlier representative of M. whites.’
    • ‘Hypercarnivory is recognized on the basis of a set of proportions: relative lengthening of the carnassial blade, relative shortening of the face, and relative reduction of the postcarnassial tooth row.’
    • ‘The fourth premolar and the lower carnassial tooth show considerable wear.’
    • ‘Moreover, the development of carnassial notches testifies to the shearing capacity of the molars as seen in other palaeoryctids.’


  • A carnassial tooth.

    • ‘This analysis included only those groups of organisms with a linear upper carnassial, in order to study the evolution of an ecological group, mammalian carnivores.’
    • ‘The lower dentition is characterized by slender premolars and a relatively short and wide carnassial.’
    • ‘In carnivores, features of the dentition related to diet include the morphology of the upper canine, lower carnassial, and fourth premolar.’


Mid 19th century: from French carnassier ‘carnivorous’, based on Latin caro, carn- ‘flesh’.