• noun the body of a dead person

Media Studies

  • verb to mess up spoken lines in a script by laughing or becoming distracted


  • verb (in acting) to be rendered unable to speak or act by the onset of uncontrollable hysterical laughter, in rehearsal or before an audience. The word has been used in the theatre since the 19th century.
  • verb to cause another actor to break down with laughter or giggling during rehearsal or performance


  • Originally, actor's slang meaning to cause chaos on stage through anykind of unprofessional behaviour. It is now applied almost exclusively tocases in which an actor falls out of character by laughing at an inappropriatemoment. Actors notorious for corpsing included the young Laurence Olivier.

Origin & History of “corpse”

Latin corpus ‘body’ has two direct descendants in English: corpse, which came via Old French cors, and corps (18th c.), which came via modern French corps. The former first entered English in the 13th century as cors, and during the 14th century it had its original Latin p reinserted. At first it meant simply ‘body’, but by the end of the 14th century the current sense ‘dead body’ was becoming firmly established. The idea originally underlying corps, on the other hand, was of a small ‘body’ of troops.

Other English derivatives of corpus include corporal, corporate (15th c.), from the past participle of Latin corporāre ‘make into a body’, corpulent (14th c.), two diminutives corpuscle (17th c.) and corset (14th c.), and corsage (15th c.). Corpus itself was acquired in the 14th century.