from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A painful localized bacterial infection of the skin and subcutaneous tissue that usually has several openings through which pus is discharged.
- n. A deep-red garnet, unfaceted and convex.
- n. Obsolete A red precious stone.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A deep-red or fiery colored garnet or other dark red precious stone, especially when cut cabochon.
- n. An abscess larger than a boil, usually with one or more openings draining pus onto the skin. It is usually caused by bacterial infection.
- n. A charge or bearing supposed to represent the precious stone, with eight sceptres or staves radiating from a common centre; an escarbuncle.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. 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.
- n. 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 anthrax.
- n. A charge or bearing supposed to represent the precious stone. It has eight scepters or staves radiating from a common center. Called also escarbuncle.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A beautiful gem of a deep-red color, inclining to scarlet, found chiefly in the East Indies.
- n. In pathology, a circumscribed inflammation of the subcutaneous connective tissue, resulting in suppuration and sloughing, and having a tendency to extend itself, undermining the skin. It is somewhat similar to a boil, but more serious in its effects.
- n. In her.: A charge or bearing generally consisting of 8 radiating staffs or scepters, 4 of which are vertical and horizontal and 4 diagonal or saltierwise, and supposed to represent the precious stone carbuncle. Also called escarbuncle.
- n. The tincture red, when describing a nobleman's escutcheon according to the system of blazoning by precious stones. See blazon, n., 2.
- n. A whelk or “toddy-blossom” on a drunkard's face.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. deep-red cabochon garnet cut without facets
- n. an infection larger than a boil and with several openings for discharge of pus
I was reminded of the word carbuncle and its dual meanings today while writing something, and remembered this blog, so I thought I'd come over and say hi.
Of stones the precious stone called carbuncle is least amenable to fire.
The common employment of the designation carbuncle for a precious stone and also for a boil was usual from ancient times.
Shakespeare and Precious Stones Treating of the Known References of Precious Stones in Shakespeare's Works, with Comments as to the Origin of His Material, the Knowledge of the Poet Concerning Precious Stones, and References as to Where the Precious Stones of His Time Came from
The negroes told us of a strange beast, which our interpreter called a carbuncle, which is said to be often seen, but only in the night.
A carbuncle is a large boil or abscess – i guess what he called a boil would be what we would call a small boil.
The dictionary says a carbuncle is a kind of jewel.
This also reminds us of the so-called carbuncle flies, the lancet of whose mouth parts, contaminated with the sanies of corpses, produces such terrible accidents.
I had scarcely settled down comfortably in my rooms, the northerly aspect of which exposed them to frequent gusts of wind (from which I had practically no protection in the form of heating appliances), and had barely got over the demoralising effect of dysentery, when I fell a victim to a specific Venetian complaint, namely a carbuncle on my leg, as the result of the extreme change of climate and of air.
Sometimes he gives us a fragment of historical romance, as in the story of the stern old regicide who suddenly appears from the woods to head the colonists of Massachusetts in a critical emergency; then he tries his hand at a bit of allegory, and describes the search for the mythical carbuncle which blazes by its inherent splendour on the face of a mysterious cliff in the depths of the untrodden wilderness, and lures old and young, the worldly and the romantic, to waste their lives in the vain effort to discover it -- for the carbuncle is the ideal which mocks our pursuit, and may be our curse or our blessing.
You see, "carbuncle" has collected a pair of the most mismatched definitions ever.