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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.]


short for charnel house
ghastly; sepulchral; deathly
[C14: from Old French: burial place, from Latin carnālis fleshly, carnal]


(ˈtʃɑr nl)

n. adj.
2. of, like, or fit for a charnel house.
[1350–1400; < Middle French < Late Latin neuter of carnālis carnal]
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"
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.