Printable Version
Pronunciation: kahr-nij Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (No plural)

Meaning: 1. Large-scale slaughter, killing and maiming, massacre, butchery, as in a car accident or war. 2. Carcasses collectively, a heap of dead bodies, as buzzards feeding on carnage.

Notes: After giving his vision of the US in his inaugural address, President Trump called America a "carnage". His use of this word suggested to me that the word is in danger, and should be a Good Word. It comes with a rarely used adjective, carnaged, which means "having carnage", like jacketed, jeweled, and iced.

In Play: Since many English speakers recognize the carn- as referring to flesh (chili con carne), it is hard to visualize carnage without dead flesh: "From the Soviet 'communists' to the Islamic State, modern history has been one of carnage rather than one of peaceful progress." Only the Macmillan Dictionary suggests this word may be used figuratively: "Economic carnage hit the stock exchange in October of 1929."

Word History: English borrowed this word from Middle French carnage. French borrowed it from Old Italian carnaggio "slaughter, murder", inherited from Medieval Latin carnaticum "flesh" from Latin carnaticum "slaughter of animals", based on carnatus "fleshiness". This word came from caro "flesh, meat". The accusative case of this word was carnem. Romance languages generally inherited nouns in the accusative case, so preserved the N. We find Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian carne "meat", as in Spanish chili con carne "chili with meat". French chair, without the N, means "flesh". Caro originally meant "a piece of flesh", for it seems to have derived the PIE root *(s)ker- "to cut", from which English shear, German scheren, and Dutch scheren all derive. Without the initial Fickle S, the same PIE word came up curtus "short" in Latin, which English borrowed for its curt.

Dr. Goodword,

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