cor·​po·​ra·​tion ˌkȯr-pə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce corporation (audio)
: a group of merchants or traders united in a trade guild (see guild sense 1)
: the municipal authorities of a town or city
: a body formed and authorized by law to act as a single person although constituted by one or more persons and legally endowed with various rights and duties including the capacity of succession
: an association of employers and employees in a basic industry or of members of a profession organized as an organ of political representation in a corporative state

Example Sentences

He works as a consultant for several large corporations. a substantial corporation that showed that he was a sucker for all-you-can-eat buffets
Recent Examples on the Web Caterpillar, a Fortune 500 corporation and construction equipment manufacturer, was cited for one willful violation and fined $145,027 by OSHA, according to OSHA’s statement announcing the punishment. Jon Haworth, ABC News, 16 Nov. 2022 Cybercriminals often use malware to gain access to a corporation's or financial institution's email ecosystem. Khristopher J. Brooks, CBS News, 9 Nov. 2022 Cooperative housing, known as co-ops, involve a corporation or group that owns real estate and its shareholders are the residents who pay to live there. Talis Shelbourne, Journal Sentinel, 8 Nov. 2022 Every bond has a unique yield to maturity whether the bond was issued by the Treasury Department, a state or municipality, corporation or agency. Suzanne Mcgee, WSJ, 5 Nov. 2022 Depending on the outcome of the impending investigation and a court judgment, the Unification Church could lose its status as a religious corporation and subsequent tax benefits, NHK reported on Monday. Emiko Jozuka, CNN, 18 Oct. 2022 It’s not the first time recently that Minaj has deleted social media posts after taking on an individual or corporation. Chris Willman, Variety, 14 Oct. 2022 The petition to the board would have prevented the village from offering any financial incentive not just to the Bears, but to any business or corporation. Chicago Tribune Staff, Chicago Tribune, 9 Oct. 2022 Whether the client was Nike or Visa or some other huge corporation, Wieden’s firm became known for consistently crafting messages that lodged themselves in the public consciousness. oregonlive, 1 Oct. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'corporation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English corporacion "organization into a body politic, an organized body of people," borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French corporacion, borrowed from Late Latin corporātiōn-, corporātiō (Latin, "physical makeup"), from Latin corporāre "to form into a body" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of action nouns — more at corporate

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Time Traveler
The first known use of corporation was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near corporation

Cite this Entry

“Corporation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



cor·​po·​ra·​tion ˌkȯr-pə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce corporation (audio)
: a group that is authorized by law to carry on an activity (as a business enterprise) with the rights and duties of a single person

Legal Definition



cor·​po·​ra·​tion ˌkȯr-pə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce corporation (audio)
: an invisible, intangible, artificial creation of the law existing as a voluntary chartered association of individuals that has most of the rights and duties of natural persons but with perpetual existence and limited liability see also pierce compare association, partnership, sole proprietorship
benefit corporation
: a for-profit corporation whose purpose is to provide a benefit to society (such as improving the environment or promoting good health) in addition to making a profit for shareholders

called also B corporation, public benefit corporation

C corporation
: a corporation that pays taxes as a corporate entity compare S corporation in this entry

Note: A corporation that does not choose to be an S corporation under the Internal Revenue Code is a C corporation.

close corporation \ ˈklōs-​ \
: a corporation whose shares are held by a small number of individuals (as management) and not publicly traded
specifically : small business corporation in this entry

called also closely held corporation

compare public corporation in this entry
foreign corporation
: a corporation organized under the laws of a state or government other than that in which it is doing business
government corporation
: public corporation in this entry
moneyed corporation
: a corporation (as a bank) authorized to engage in the investment, exchange, or lending of moneyed capital
municipal corporation
: a political unit created or otherwise given corporate status (as by a charter) by a superior governing authority (as a state) and endowed with powers of local self-government (as eminent domain)
broadly : a public corporation (as a utility) created to act as an agency of administration and local self-government

Note: As a result of its incorporation, a municipal corporation has the capacity to sue and be sued. Citizens as well as officials are usually considered part of a municipal corporation.

professional corporation
: a corporation organized by one or more licensed individuals (as a doctor or lawyer) to provide professional services and obtain tax advantages
public corporation
: a government-owned corporation (as a utility or railroad) engaged in a profit-making enterprise that may require the exercise of powers unique to government (as eminent domain)

called also government corporation, publicly held corporation

: a business corporation whose stocks are publicly traded

called also publicly held corporation

compare close corporation in this entry
S corporation
: a small business corporation that is treated for federal tax purposes as a partnership

called also subchapter S corporation

compare c corporation in this entry
shell corporation
: a corporation that exists as a legal entity without independent assets or operations as an instrument by which another company or corporation can carry out dealings usually unrelated to its primary business
: a corporation formed for purposes of tax evasion or acquisition or merger rather than for a legitimate business purpose
small business corporation
: a corporation described in section 1361 of the Internal Revenue Code that has 35 shareholders or less and only one class of stock and that may if eligible elect to be an S corporation and taxed accordingly
subchapter S corporation
: s corporation in this entry

History and Etymology for corporation

Late Latin corporatio, from Latin corporare to form into a body, from corpor-, corpus body

More from Merriam-Webster on corporation

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