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

  • adj. Of or relating to the body. See Synonyms at bodily.
  • n. A noncommissioned rank in the U.S. Army that is above private first class and below sergeant.
  • n. A noncommissioned rank in the U.S. Marine Corps that is above lance corporal and below sergeant.
  • n. One who holds the rank of corporal.
  • n. Ecclesiastical A white linen cloth on which the consecrated elements are placed during the celebration of the Eucharist.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Having a physical, tangible body; corporeal.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to the body, especially the human body.
  • n. A non-commissioned officer army rank with NATO code OR-4. The rank below a sergeant but above a lance corporal and private.
  • n. A non-commissioned officer rank in the police force, below a sergeant but above a private or patrolman.
  • n. The white linen cloth on which the elements of the eucharist are placed; a communion cloth.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Belonging or relating to the body; bodily.
  • adj. Having a body or substance; not spiritual; material. In this sense now usually written corporeal.
  • n. A noncommissioned officer, next below a sergeant. In the United States army he is the lowest noncommissioned officer in a company of infantry. He places and relieves sentinels.
  • n. A fine linen cloth, on which the sacred elements are consecrated in the eucharist, or with which they are covered; a communion cloth.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Pertaining or relating to the body; bodily; physical: as, corporal pain; corporal punishment.
  • Material; not spiritual; corporeal.
  • In zoology, pertaining to the thorax and abdomen, as distinguished from the head, wings, feet, and other appendages: as, corporal colors or marks.
  • Synonyms Physical, Corporeal, etc. See bodily.
  • n. Eccles., in the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, the fine linen cloth spread on the altar during the celebration of the eucharist.
  • n. The lowest non-commissioned officer of a company of infantry, cavalry, or artillery, next below a sergeant. He has charge of a squad, places and relieves sentinels, and has a certain disciplinary control in camp and barracks.
  • n. Semotilus corporalis, a cyprinoid fish found in fresh waters east of the Alleghanies.
  • n. [lowercase] Three-ball billiards with the addition of a wooden pin which spots wherever it falls on the playing-surface of the table and counts if knocked down by the cue-ball after this has hit another ball.

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

  • adj. possessing or existing in bodily form
  • n. a noncommissioned officer in the Army or Air Force or Marines
  • adj. affecting or characteristic of the body as opposed to the mind or spirit


Middle English, from Old French, from Latin corporālis, from corpus, corpor-, body; see kwrep- in Indo-European roots.
Obsolete French, alteration of caporal, from Old Italian caporale, from capo, head, from Latin caput; see kaput- in Indo-European roots.
Middle English, from Old French and from Medieval Latin corporāle, both from Latin corporālis, of the body (the Eucharistic bread being representative of Christ's body), from corpus, corpor-, body.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin corporālis, from Latin corpus ("body"); compare corporeal. (Wiktionary)
Corrupted from the French caporal, from the Italian caporale, from capo ("head, leader") from the Latin caput ("head"). (Wiktionary)
From the Latin corporale, the neuter of corporalis representing the doctrine of transubstantiation in which the eucharist becomes the body of Christ. (Wiktionary)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Also a word from Christian liturgy: "a cloth on which the chalice and paten are placed during the celebration of the Eucharist.
    ORIGIN Middle English : from medieval Latin corporale (pallium) ‘body (cloth),’ from Latin corpus, corpor- ‘body.’ (Oxford American English Dictionary)

    In practice, it is the white linen cloth that is laid atop the altar (above the fair linen that covers the whole altar) that functions as the "landing pad" for the Holy Spirit -- that is, it defines the particular space where the wine and bread are being consecrated; an extra loaf of bread not intended to be consecrated will be set to the side and not on the corporal

    June 7, 2009