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A repository for the bones or bodies of the dead; a charnel house.
Resembling, suggesting, or suitable for receiving the dead.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin carnāle, from neuter of Latin carnālis, of the flesh, from carō, carn-, flesh; see sker- in Indo-European roots.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


short for charnel house
ghastly; sepulchral; deathly
[C14: from Old French: burial place, from Latin carnālis fleshly, carnal]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈtʃɑr nl)

n. adj.
2. of, like, or fit for a charnel house.
[1350–1400; < Middle French < Late Latin neuter of carnālis carnal]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.charnel - a vault or building where corpses or bones are deposited
burial vault, vault - a burial chamber (usually underground)
Adj.1.charnel - gruesomely indicative of death or the dead; "a charnel smell came from the chest filled with dead men's bones"; "ghastly shrieks"; "the sepulchral darkness of the catacombs"
offensive - unpleasant or disgusting especially to the senses; "offensive odors"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in classic literature ?
The gloom which surrounded that horrible charnel pit, which seemed to go down to the very bowels of the earth, conveyed from far down the sights and sounds of the nethermost hell.
His disordered mind interpreted the hall of the forest as a charnel place.
For the odors of these ghastly charnel houses there may be words in Lithuanian, but there are none in English.
In the awful stench of these frightful charnel isles haggard maniacs screamed and gibbered and fought among the torn remnants of their grisly feasts; while on those which contained but clean-picked bones they battled with one another, the weaker furnishing sustenance for the stronger; or with clawlike hands clutched at the bloated bodies that drifted down with the current.
And yet, believing this with absolute conviction, they somehow lacked the nerve to rush the frail wraith of a man with the white skin and escape from the charnel house by the whale-boats.
Already it has done me good: my heart was a sort of charnel; it will now be a shrine."
The entire surface of this metallic enclosure was rudely daubed in all the hideous and repulsive devices to which the charnel superstition of the monks has given rise.
One needs to look beyond the aesthetical and commercial significations of nature and acknowledge the world as charnel ground.
"Most intriguingly, to the west of the church, there was a discovery of, what some people argue, were the bones of those in the army, buried as charnel in a reused two-celled chapel.
These disarticulated human remains are known as charnel (hence charnel house) and the most recognisable elements are skulls.
Who is responsible is of no consequence, for all sides must share the blame for turning the Arab world's poorest country into a charnel house.
The new facilities should also attract more visitors to the church with its intact charnel house, 13th century Doom Painting and the Priest's Rooms - the oldest rooms in Coventry.