a dead body, especially of a human The corpse was barely recognizable. See related entries: Death Word Origin Middle English (denoting the living body of a person or animal): alteration of archaic 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 cent., but now distinguishes corpse from corps.Extra examples The corpse had been laid out on a marble slab. The ground was littered with the corpses of enemy soldiers. They saw the corpse sprawled on the steps. We passed the desiccated corpse of a brigand hanging on a gibbet.