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c.1600, from Middle French carnage (16c.), from Old Italian carnaggio "slaughter, murder," from Medieval Latin carnaticum "flesh," from Latin carnaticum "slaughter of animals," from carnem (nominative caro) "flesh," originally "a piece of flesh," from PIE root *(s)ker- (1) "to cut" (see shear (v.)). In English always used more of slaughters of men than beasts. Southey (1795) tried to make a verb of it.