Definition of incarnation in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˌinkärˈnāSH(ə)n/


1A person who embodies in the flesh a deity, spirit, or abstract quality: Rama was Vishnu’s incarnation on earth
More example sentences
  • These deity incarnations are manifested to give facility to the devotees of the Lord so that they can worship Him in that particular deity form to whom they have developed attraction.
  • The leader claims to be the incarnation of a deity, angel, or special messenger.
  • ‘We recognise avatar as an incarnation of a deity,’ laughs Jayachandran.
embodiment, personification, exemplification, type, epitome;
manifestation, bodily form, avatar
1.1 (the Incarnation) (In Christian theology) the embodiment of God the Son in human flesh as Jesus Christ.
Example sentences
  • Incarnation, a volume in the New Century Theology series, reads as an extended meditation on the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
  • The Incarnation of Jesus Christ is God's Self-revelation to the world.
  • I write as an Anglican theologian of the Cross, who understands the Atonement, or God for us, as prior in theology to the Incarnation, or God with us.
2(With reference to reincarnation) one of a series of lifetimes that a person spends on earth: in my next incarnation, I’d like to be the Secretary of Fun
More example sentences
  • The easy question to be answered is the latter because in most forms of reincarnation that are taught, we go through a series of incarnations so that we may become wise and learn from our past mistakes.
  • I don't know how you feel about it, but you were male in your last earthly incarnation.
  • Except that it determines the course and context of your next earthly incarnation, rather than whether you'll be spirited off to heaven or hell.
lifetime, life, existence
2.1The form in which a person spends an incarnation.
Example sentences
  • I know, I know, quizzes suck, but it's Kylie - Which incarnation of Kylie are you?
  • In either incarnation, he has had little use for Isaiah Berlin or John Dewey.
  • He does occasionally, in this incarnation, convene meetings to condemn the growing criminalisation of politics, uneven development or corruption in the country.


Middle English (as a term in Christian theology): via Old French from ecclesiastical Latin incarnatio(n-), from the verb incarnare (see incarnate).

  • carnival from mid 16th century:

    Originally a carnival was, in Roman Catholic countries, the period before Lent, a time of public merrymaking and festivities. It comes from medieval Latin carnelevamen ‘Shrovetide’. The base elements of the Latin word are caro, carn- ‘flesh’ and levare ‘to put away’, before the meat-free fasting of Lent began. There is a popular belief that carnival is from carne vale, ‘farewell, meat’, but this is mistaken. Other flesh-related words that come from caro include carnivorous (late 16th century), carnage (early 17th century), carnation (late 16th century) (from the flower's ‘fleshy’ colour), carrion (Middle English), and incarnation (Middle English).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: in·car·na·tion

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.