Dear Kate, Actually, 'carbuncular' means covered with pimples, caused by 'habits of intemperance'. The word meant initially referred to coals, and then came to mean jewels of red colour (ie, ruby) or of a red hue (mythical jewels which were said to glow in the dark). It meant 'jeweled (with red jewels)' or a red jewel in the Elizabethan period, or something of 'a resplendant quality'. It is clear how the word came to mean encrusted with spots. Eliot quotes some lines from Jonson's Volpone in his essay, 'Ben Jonson', 1919, which include 'carbuncle' (p. 154, SE). You might check the OED for more information. NB to Kate: If you are going to make words mean what you whatever you say they mean, I think you ought to pay them a handsome bonus. Yours, Jennifer PS. Thanks to Rick for some interesting killings. I remember that Acteon and Diana were in the drafts of TWL (Shall bring/Acteon to Diana in the spring/Where all shall see her naked skin). Forgive me, I quote from memory. ----- Original Message ----- From: <[log in to unmask]> To: <[log in to unmask]> Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2001 2:22 AM Subject: Re: Was his glass graspable with long fingernails? > In a message dated 7/11/2001 7:20:24 PM Eastern Daylight Time, > [log in to unmask] writes: > > << What does carbuncular mean, Kate >> > > In this case, a heavy, colorless man, who, although he doesn't take the > physical life of the object of his passing interest, certainly kills the > passion in her. Eliot does describe the man as young, but some people are > never truly young at heart; they go directly from childhood into old age.