Printable Version
Pronunciation: kor-por-i-êl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Bodily, pertaining to a tangible physical animal body as opposed to the soul or spirit. 2. Material, related to the physical world.

Notes: This word has the opposite meaning of spiritual. It has a near synonym with corporal [kor-pr-rl], which also means "bodily". 'Corporeal matters' are usually related to the flesh, but the term can be stretched to include the material evidence of any idea, as "A novel is the corporeal relic of the author's mind." Corporal may be used as a noun with an unrelated meaning.

In Play: The original sense of the word seemed more at home in a Church setting: "Transubstantiation makes the body and blood of Christ corporeal in the Roman Catholic communion." But secular applications do arise: "The corporeal flaws seem to mount with age no matter how much you exercise."

Word History: This Good Word is based on Latin corporeus "corporeal" with the addition of the adjective suffix -al. Corporeus comes from corp(o)r- "body". The underlying PIE root kwrep- "body, form, appearance" gave us the words, borrowed from Latin, corpuscle, corpse, corpus, and, oddly enough, leprechaun. The Irish word is lucorpan, from Old Irish lu- "small" + corp-an "body" from the same Latin root, a testament to how Church Latin was interwoven with Irish Gaelic over the centuries. Midriff was created in Old English from mid "middle" + hrif "belly", the Old Germanic version of PIE kwrep-.

Dr. Goodword,

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