Webster 1913 Edition



a little coal, a bright kind of precious stone, a kind of tumor, dim. of
coal: cf. F.
. See
A beautiful gem of a deep red color (with a mixture of scarlet) called by the Greeks anthrax; found in the East Indies. When held up to the sun, it loses its deep tinge, and becomes of the color of burning coal. The name belongs for the most part to ruby sapphire, though it has been also given to red spinel and garnet.
A very painful acute local inflammation of the subcutaneous tissue, esp. of the trunk or back of the neck, characterized by brawny hardness of the affected parts, sloughing of the skin and deeper tissues, and marked constitutional depression. It differs from a boil in size, tendency to spread, and the absence of a central core, and is frequently fatal. It is also called
A charge or bearing supposed to represent the precious stone. It has eight scepters or staves radiating from a common center. Called also

Definition 2021





carbuncle (plural carbuncles)

  1. (archaic) A deep-red or fiery colored garnet or other dark red precious stone, especially when cut cabochon.
    • 1602, William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act II, scene 2, line 401:
      With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus []
    • 1611, Bible (King James Version), Isaiah 54:12:
      And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.
    • 1634, Thomas Herbert, A Relation of Some Yeares Trauaile, Begunne Anno 1626. Into Afrique and the Greater Asia, especially the Territories of the Persian Monarchie: And some Parts of the Orientall Indies, and Iles Adiacent. Of their Religion, Language, Habit, Discent, Ceremonies, and other Matters Concerning Them: Together with the Proceedings and Death of the Three Late Ambassadours: Sir D. C[otton] Sir R. S[herley] and the Persian Nogdi-Beg: As also the Two Great Monarchs, the King of Persia, and the Great Mogol, London: Printed by William Stansby, and Iacob Bloome, OCLC 644078533; republished as William Foster, editor, Travels in Persia 1627–1629. Abridged and Edited by Sir William Foster [...] with an Introduction and Notes (Broadway Travellers), London: G. Routledge & Sons, 1928, OCLC 4900176, page 79:
      His turban, or mandil [mandīl], was of finest white silk interwoven with gold, bestudded with pearl[s] and carbuncles; []
  2. (heraldry) A charge or bearing supposed to represent the precious stone, with eight sceptres or staves radiating from a common centre; an escarbuncle.
  3. An abscess larger than a boil, usually with one or more openings draining pus onto the skin. It is usually caused by bacterial infection.
  4. An unpopular or ugly building; an eyesore.


See also

Old French

Alternative forms

  • charbuncle


Borrowed from Latin carbunculus.


carbuncle m (oblique plural carbuncles, nominative singular carbuncles, nominative plural carbuncle)

  1. carbuncle (deep-red or fiery colored garnet or other dark red precious stone)