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Etymology 1Edit

Borrowed from Ecclesiastical Latin incarnatus, past participle of incarnari (be made flesh), from in- + Latin caro (flesh).



incarnate (not comparable)

  1. (postpositive) Embodied in flesh; given a bodily, especially a human, form; personified.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      Here shalt thou sit incarnate.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Jortin
      He represents the emperor and his wife as two devils incarnate, sent into the world for the destruction of mankind.
  2. (obsolete) Flesh-colored, crimson.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Holland to this entry?)

Etymology 2Edit

From the past participle stem of Latin incarnare (make flesh), from in- + caro (flesh).



incarnate (third-person singular simple present incarnates, present participle incarnating, simple past and past participle incarnated)

  1. (transitive) To embody in flesh, invest with a bodily, especially a human, form.
    • 1931, H. P. Lovecraft, The Whisperer in Darkness, chapter 2:
      For one thing, we virtually decided that these morbidities and the hellish Himalayan Mi-Go were one and the same order of incarnated nightmare.
  2. (obsolete, intransitive) To incarn; to become covered with flesh, to heal over.
    • 1760: My uncle Toby’s wound was near well, and as soon as the surgeon recovered his surprize, and could get leave to say as much—he told him, 'twas just beginning to incarnate — Laurence Sterne, The Life & Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (Penguin 2003, p. 83)
  3. (transitive) To make carnal; to reduce the spiritual nature of.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      This essence to incarnate and imbrute, / That to the height of deity aspired.
  4. (transitive, figuratively) To put into or represent in a concrete form, as an idea.
    • 2005, Paulo Freire & ‎Donaldo Macedo, Literacy: Reading the Word and the World, →ISBN, page 20:
      Truly, that special world presented itself to me as the arena of my perceptual activity and therefore as the world of my first reading. The texts, the words, the letters of that context were incarnated in a series of things, objects, and signs.
    • 2006, Constantin V. Boundas, Deleuze and Philosophy, →ISBN, page 160:
      Responding to this in confusion, perhaps you construct an Idea, a structure, a multiplicity, a system of multiple, nonlocalisable ideal connections which is then incarnated. It is incarnated in real (not ideal) relations and actual (physical) terms, each of which exists in relation to each other, reciprocally determining each other.
    • 2013, B.E. Babich, Hermeneutic Philosophy of Science, Van Gogh’s Eyes, and God, →ISBN:
      The two are fused together in a single act and single product, precisely as an idea incarnated in an image, i.e., the expression of an embodied-spirit, grasped all at once as a meaning shining through a manifold of images and held as one in the unity of human consciousness which is simultaneously intellectual and sensible.


Related termsEdit

Etymology 3Edit

in- +‎ carnate


incarnate (not comparable)

  1. Not in the flesh; spiritual.
    • Richardson
      I fear nothing [] that devil carnate or incarnate can fairly do.