corporal

Definitions

General English

Military

  • noun a junior non-commissioned officer (NCO) in the army, marines or air force.
  • noun a junior non-commissioned officer (NCO) in the army or marines
  • abbreviationCpl

Origin & History of “corporal”

Corporal comes via Old French corporal from Latin corporālis ‘bodily’, an adjective derived from corpus ‘body’. The noun corporal ‘non-commissioned officer’ (16th c.) was probably originally a completely different word. It was borrowed from French corporal, which appears to have been an alteration of caporal; this in turn came from Italian caporale, a derivative of capo ‘head’ (the change to corporal seems to have been based on the notion of the corporal as being in charge of a ‘body’ of troops).
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