from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of or relating to carnivores.
  • adj. Flesh-eating or predatory: a carnivorous bird.
  • adj. Characterized by destructive or predatory behavior or instincts: "a city becoming increasingly carnivorous as it becomes decreasingly serious about governance” ( George F. Will).
  • adj. Botany Capable of trapping insects or other small organisms and absorbing nutrients from them; insectivorous.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of, or relating to carnivores, or the taxonomic order Canivora.
  • adj. Predatory or flesh eating.
  • adj. Insectivorous: capable of trapping insects and absorbing nutrient from them.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Eating or feeding on flesh. The term is applied: (a) to animals which naturally seek flesh for food, as the tiger, dog, etc.; (b) to plants which are supposed to absorb animal food; (c) to substances which destroy animal tissue, as caustics.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Eating or feeding on flesh; subsisting upon animal food: applied to animals which naturally seek animal food, as the lion, tiger, dog, wolf, etc.; also to plants which feed upon insects, as the Drosera or sundew, the Pinguicula, the Dionæa or Venus's flytrap, and the various pitcher-bearing plants.
  • Specifically— In mammalogy, of or pertaining to the Carnivora; carnivoral; carnassial. In entomology, of or pertaining to the Carnivora; adephagous; predatory.
  • In odontography, trenchant; sectorial; carnassial: as, a carnivorous molar or premolar.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. relating to or characteristic of carnivores
  • adj. (used of plants as well as animals) feeding on animals


From Latin carnivorus : carō, carn-, flesh; see sker-1 in Indo-European roots + -vorus, -vorous.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin carnivorus ("flesh-eating") (Wiktionary)



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  • Think of how you would paint this cat: with her insides exposed, the delicate rib cage curved like a ring's setting around a bloody gem of carnivorous love.
    --Barbara Kingsolver, 2009, The Lacuna, p. 275

    February 5, 2010