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

Example Sentences

the corporeal nature of matter corporeal cravings such as hunger and thirst
Recent Examples on the Web Tacopina’s corporeal form heaves through the office entryway, 10 minutes behind schedule. Kara Voght, Washington Post, 18 Apr. 2023 Even as a ghost, Pap tries to beat his only son, but there are corporeal rules against that sort of thing. Lester Fabian Brathwaite,, 13 Apr. 2023 The show focuses on Kapoor’s painting practice, displaying corporeal expressions on canvas that are both broad in color and texture — layering thick, blood-red impasto. Steven Vargas, Los Angeles Times, 12 Apr. 2023 Many of the subjects stretched and sprawled beyond the frame, suggesting the scope of their corporeal ambition and an eagerness to connect to the outside world. Jon Caramanica, New York Times, 31 Mar. 2023 Along with World War II blood drives, heartwarming stories about corneal transplants spread a radically new understanding of corporeal generosity. Susan Lawrence, Fortune, 10 Mar. 2023 To remove yourself from corporeal reality for a little bit and let your husband/wife deal with the hungry children/pets. oregonlive, 10 Mar. 2023 Being in pain blurs the corporeal glass. Kieran Setiya, The Atlantic, 1 Nov. 2022 In severe cases, profound lung failure necessitating long term mechanical ventilation has been seen side by side with heart failure, even requiring high-risk cardiac bypass treatment known as ECMO (Extra-corporeal memebrane oxygenation), which is essentially an external mechanical heart machine. Nina Shapiro, Forbes, 15 June 2021 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 27 May. 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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