cor·​po·​re·​al kȯr-ˈpȯr-ē-əl How to pronounce corporeal (audio)
: having, consisting of, or relating to a physical material body: such as
: not spiritual
… some few traces of a diviner nature which look out through his corporeal baseness …Robert Browning
: not immaterial or intangible : substantial
corporeal property
archaic : corporal
corporeally adverb
corporealness noun

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In various religions, including Christianity, corporeal existence is often called the opposite of spiritual existence, and corporeal existence, unlike spiritual existence, is often said to be contaminated with evil. The word is also often used by philosophers, especially when considering the nature of reality. For lawyers, corporeal describes physical property such as houses or cars, as opposed to something valuable but nonphysical like a good reputation.

Choose the Right Synonym for corporeal

material, physical, corporeal, phenomenal, sensible, objective mean of or belonging to actuality.

material implies formation out of tangible matter; used in contrast with spiritual or ideal it may connote the mundane, crass, or grasping.

material values

physical applies to what is perceived directly by the senses and may contrast with mental, spiritual, or imaginary.

the physical benefits of exercise

corporeal implies having the tangible qualities of a body such as shape, size, or resistance to force.

artists have portrayed angels as corporeal beings

phenomenal applies to what is known or perceived through the senses rather than by intuition or rational deduction.

scientists concerned with the phenomenal world

sensible stresses the capability of readily or forcibly impressing the senses.

the earth's rotation is not sensible to us

objective may stress material or independent existence apart from a subject perceiving it.

no objective evidence of damage

Examples of corporeal in a Sentence

the corporeal nature of matter corporeal cravings such as hunger and thirst
Recent Examples on the Web And boom, they’re possessed by whatever spirit has been offered a chance to take over a corporeal body. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 27 July 2023 Our Body, which premiered at the 2023 Berlin Film Festival, is a stirring testament to the complexities of inhabiting a corporeal form. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 4 Aug. 2023 Through the lens of a few central families, the story cycles through motifs that repeat across generations: wandering men, the paradise of the natural world, and varieties of corporeal and mystical love — all nailed in place by this singular trauma of the flood. Sarah Cypher, Washington Post, 18 July 2023 And often, wandering around where the undead lurk, whether intentional or unintentional, results in having demons, ghosts and other unsettled spirits attach to you (or, worse, try to take over your corporeal form). Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, 7 July 2023 Our bones will likely outlive the rest of our corporeal form by tens if not hundreds of years. Mia Mercado, The New Yorker, 22 June 2023 The Neo-Concrete movement that emerged still used geometric forms, but did so in pursuit of a more sociable and corporeal experience. Susan Tallman, The New York Review of Books, 24 May 2023 This reader, with at least 50 years more in corporeal form than Ching, could not help but rapidly identify with her wisdom and experience the poignance of her story., 9 June 2023 Tacopina’s corporeal form heaves through the office entryway, 10 minutes behind schedule. Kara Voght, Washington Post, 18 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'corporeal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English corporealle, from Latin corporeus "having a body, physical" (from corpor-, corpus "body" + -eus -eous) + -alle -al entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near corporeal

Cite this Entry

“Corporeal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


cor·​po·​re·​al kȯr-ˈpōr-ē-əl How to pronounce corporeal (audio)
: having, consisting of, or relating to a physical material body
corporeally adverb

Medical Definition


cor·​po·​re·​al kȯr-ˈpōr-ē-əl, -ˈpȯr- How to pronounce corporeal (audio)
: having, consisting of, or relating to a physical material body

Legal Definition


cor·​po·​re·​al kȯr-ˈpōr-ē-əl How to pronounce corporeal (audio)
: having, consisting of, or relating to a physical material body compare incorporeal
corporeally adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on corporeal

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