Definition of charnel house in English:

Share this entry

charnel house

Pronunciation: /ˈCHärnl ˌhous/


1A building or vault in which corpses or bones are piled.
Example sentences
  • The elite were often buried in log-lined tombs within the charnel houses, accompanied by a selection of rich grave goods.
  • In preparation for his monstrous experiment Victor scours charnel houses, places for vivisection, and graveyards, for parts from which to assemble his New Adam or Modern Prometheus, which is the novel's subtitle.
  • The burial rites involved placing the dead person in a charnel house made of wooden posts, burning it, and then constructing a mound over the top.
1.1A place associated with violent death: Europe in the immediate postwar period had become a charnel house
More example sentences
  • If they are now less fond of war, it's because that once battle-happy place has suffered the object lesson of having their continent reduced to a charnel house twice in 30 years.
  • Long before those thirty seconds expired, however, the street had become a charnel house.
  • Without thought of where he was going, only knowing he had to get away, he ran off down the dirt driveway, away from the main road and the charnel house he had just vacated.


Mid 16th century: from Middle English charnel 'burying place', from Old French, from medieval Latin carnale, from late Latin carnalis 'relating to flesh', from caro, carn- 'flesh'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: char·nel house

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.