cor·​pus | \ ˈkȯr-pəs How to pronounce corpus (audio) \
plural corpora\ ˈkȯr-​p(ə-​)rə How to pronounce corpora (audio) \

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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Synonyms for corpus


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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 The corpus is the work of researchers from seven South African universities, who aspire to build up their own version of the massive datasets that exist for US newspapers to power natural language processing (NLP) programs. Nicolás Rivero, Quartz, "Researchers are gathering South African news headlines to power AI," 2 July 2020 Habeas corpus is the common-law principle that protects individuals from unlawful detention. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Court Closes Asylum Loophole," 25 June 2020 Given these power outages, this experience may produce the rather strange and idiosyncratic stories that make up the corpus of NDE reports. Christof Koch, Scientific American, "What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about the Brain," 19 May 2020 The actual words themselves come from a corpus of some 100 million captions submitted to Imgflip’s meme generator. Angela Watercutter, Wired, "An AI Meme Generator Gives Us the Absurdist Art We All Need," 29 Apr. 2020 Ironically, firms that claim to have no money even to pay their staff, too, have made huge donations to this corpus. Vatsal Bhandari, Quartz India, "Stressed Indian companies are donating big time to PM Cares—at their employees’ expense," 6 May 2020 The governor also vetoed a $1 billion transfer from the earnings reserve of the Alaska Permanent Fund to the Permanent Fund’s corpus. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, "Gov. Dunleavy signs state budget with vetoes, promises to use federal aid to compensate," 8 Apr. 2020 The rabbit hole that transports Alice to Wonderland might as well be a birth canal concealed within the vast corpus of the earth. Longreads, "“The Leaky Vessel”: On Lewis Carroll and the Perils of Being Female," 27 Mar. 2020 When the Permanent Fund’s investments lose value, those losses are taken out of the reserve, and the corpus remains untouched. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska Permanent Fund’s leaders warn of ‘catastrophic fiscal failure’ unless Legislature acts," 6 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for corpus

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

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Last Updated

14 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Corpus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Aug. 2020.

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How to pronounce corpus (audio)

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 How to pronounce corpus (audio) \
plural corpora\ -​p(ə-​)rə How to pronounce corpora (audio) \

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 How to pronounce corpus (audio) \
plural corpora\ -​pə-​rə How to pronounce corpora (audio) \

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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