cor·pus | \ˈkȯr-pəs \
plural corpora\ˈkȯr-p(ə-)rə \

Definition of corpus 

1 : the body of a human or animal especially when dead

2a : the main part or body of a bodily structure or organ the corpus of the uterus

b : the main body or corporeal substance of a thing specifically : the principal of a fund or estate as distinct from income or interest

3a : all the writings or works of a particular kind or on a particular subject especially : the complete works of an author

b : a collection or body of knowledge or evidence especially : a collection of recorded utterances used as a basis for the descriptive analysis of a language

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Examples of corpus in a Sentence

a computerized corpus of English Jane Austen's corpus is modest in number but magnificent in achievement.

Recent Examples on the Web

Still, what a corpus: almost two hundred books to date, of which sixty-six have headed the Times best-seller list. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "Bill Clinton and James Patterson’s Concussive Collaboration," 3 June 2018 The Polish government insists its actions are a necessary debridement of the judiciary’s rotten corpus. Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, "If America Is Divided, So Is Europe," 6 July 2018 Affirmative action in higher education has been scrutinized by the highest courts since 1978, and there is a corpus of case law about racial preferences in the workplace going back about as long. Richard J. Reddick, Fortune, "How Undoing Affirmative Action Hurts America's Colleges," 5 July 2018 In those cases a new corpus of laws, regulations and commercial norms must be developed, either by government or the entrepreneurs themselves. John Steele Gordon, WSJ, "Regulators Take On Silicon Valley, as They Did Earlier Innovators," 17 Apr. 2018 The software can pull sentences and quotes to support its position from a corpus of hundreds of millions of documents. Tom Simonite, WIRED, "Now the Computer Can Argue With You," 19 June 2018 Even as a corpus of slave narratives circulated, much of the story of what happened to black bodies on these shores was yet to be told. Emily Bernard, The New Republic, "Zora Neale Hurston’s drive to tell the story of the slave trade’s last survivor," 19 June 2018 There also will be a scourging pillar, a Roman lance, and a life-size corpus on the cross that portrays a dramatic scene, as well as various other items of that time. Joanne Berger Dumound/special To,, "Local lecturer brings world class Shroud of Turin exhibit to Greater Cleveland," 19 Feb. 2018 The customization works in much the same way as the original training and model-building: developers will train the system using their own corpus of test data, building on the preexisting models. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Microsoft continues its quest to bring machine learning to every application," 7 May 2018

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

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First Known Use of corpus

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for corpus

Middle English, borrowed from Latin, "body, entity, group of people, collection, compendium" — more at midriff

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Last Updated

29 Sep 2018

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The first known use of corpus was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for corpus



English Language Learners Definition of corpus

: a collection of writings, conversations, speeches, etc., that people use to study and describe a language

: a collection of poems, paintings, songs, etc.


cor·pus | \ˈkȯr-pəs \
plural corpora\-p(ə-)rə \

Medical Definition of corpus 

1 : the human or animal body especially when dead

2 : the main part or body of a bodily structure or organ the corpus of the jaw — see corpus uteri


cor·pus | \ˈkȯr-pəs, -ˌpu̇s \
plural corpora\-pə-rə \

Legal Definition of corpus 

: the main body of a thing specifically : the principal of a fund, trust, or estate as distinct from income or interest : res

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