Definition of corpse in English:



  • A dead body, especially of a human being rather than an animal.

    ‘the corpse of a man lay there’
    figurative ‘he believed that fascism would revive the corpse of Europe’
    • ‘Medical personnel fear an outbreak of cholera and other contagious diseases if the bodies of the corpses are not cleared before they start decaying.’
    • ‘Mourning families had been forced to keep the corpses of dead loved ones in their homes because there was no way undertakers could reach them.’
    • ‘He raced away from the stunned group of men, staring at their dead comrades' burnt corpses.’
    • ‘She looked back down at the corpses of the dead guards and the bodies of the unconscious guards.’
    • ‘And he couldn't just leave her here either, since someone's bound to find the corpses of the dead gang members.’
    • ‘One night, while trying to get his friend Malik some free studio time, he stumbles upon the lifeless corpses of two dead bodyguards.’
    • ‘Lisa Morgan, 30, a legal secretary from Chatham, Kent, clung to a tree for six hours, surrounded by human corpses and dead animals.’
    • ‘He emphasizes that their dead bodies, their corpses, will fall in the wilderness.’
    • ‘The commander quickly moved on without glancing twice at the dead corpses, hoping that he would not join them in battle.’
    • ‘Therefore he has dug one small cove in the ice and has passed the night with the corpses of the six dead men.’
    • ‘He secured a job in a medical school morgue and did his earliest performances with dead animals and human corpses.’
    • ‘I'm trying to eat my breakfast but I can see his corpse lying in a body bag on the glacier.’
    • ‘Then for the next 8 hours during the second stage I evacuated corpses or dead bodies.’
    • ‘We first saw a hand swinging in and out of the door and we thought we saw a dead corpse.’
    • ‘The records say he had some medical training but aside from carving up dead corpses, I never saw anything to indicate that it's true.’
    • ‘Von Hagens, who was born in 1945, is reported to have had a lively interest in the human body, particularly in corpses, since he was a child.’
    • ‘They ran over the dead grass, now strewn with dead bodies and corpses.’
    • ‘Bushes lay crushed and we found countless corpses of animals that looked as if something had really torn into them.’
    • ‘I realized today that, all week, I've been referring to the dead I've seen as bodies and corpses.’
    • ‘A weeping elderly woman identified one of the corpses as her dead husband.’
    dead body, body, cadaver, carcass, skeleton
    View synonyms


[no object]theatrical slang
  • 1Spoil a piece of acting by forgetting one's lines or laughing uncontrollably.

    ‘Peter just can't stop himself corpsing when he is on stage’
    • ‘They may acknowledge that a lot of people corpsed but they always blame that on problems with the set.’
    • ‘That's why everyone has a story about a Wise Man corpsing at a key moment, or a showboating Shepherd hogging the limelight.’
    • ‘Many performers succumb to corpsing, and I have on occasion been known to set it up, while of course retaining the semblance of a consummate professional.’
    • ‘We finished the dress rehearsal an hour before we let the audience in, and were still finding scenes we could not get through without corpsing (actors laughing at each other on stage) or things that needed to be re-staged for props to work.’
    • ‘You want a channel full of in-jokes and presenters corpsing on air?’
    1. 1.1with object Cause (an actor) to forget their lines and start laughing.
      ‘one singer ad libbed and corpsed his colleagues on stage’


Middle English (denoting the living body of a person or animal): alteration of corse by association with Latin corpus, a change which also took place in French ( Old French cors becoming corps). The p was originally silent, as in French; the final e was rare before the 19th century, but now distinguishes corpse from corps.