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Alternative forms[edit]


Middle English, from earlier corse, from Old French cors, from Latin corpus (body).

Displaced native English likam from Old English līċ. The ⟨p⟩ was inserted due to the original Latin spelling. Doublet of corps and corpus. The verb sense derives from the notion of being unable to control laughter while acting as dead body.



corpse (plural corpses)

  1. A dead body.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:corpse
  2. (archaic, sometimes derogatory) A human body in general, whether living or dead.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:body

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



corpse (third-person singular simple present corpses, present participle corpsing, simple past and past participle corpsed)

  1. (intransitive, slang, of an actor) To laugh uncontrollably during a performance.
    • 1989, Kenneth Branagh, Beginning, London: Chatto & Windus, →ISBN, page 94:
      The rest of the day and the week were spent blocking and learning the lines. The only drama was the predictable one of being ticked off for corpsing. Rupert was quite as bad as me when it came to giggling and the tea-party scene which took place between Rupert, David Parfitt, Piers Flint-Shipman and I, was too much.
    • 1993, John Banville, Ghosts:
      There were still moments when she would halt suddenly, like an actor stranded in the middle of the stage, lines forgotten, staring goggle-eyed and making fish-mouths...Corpsing: that was the word.
    • 1993, Bevan Amberhill, The Bloody Man[1], Mercury Press, →ISBN:
      Poor Damian corpsed and almost forgot his next lines. The director gave him a terrific lecture, and Alan caught hell from stage management.
  2. (transitive, slang, of an actor) To cause another actor to do this.