Both words deal with the body. They have similar spellings and the even sound somewhat similar. No wonder people mix up corporal and corporeal! However, their meanings are discrete. We’ll help you figure out how to use these words correctly so you’ll sound knowledgeable, not confused.
Corporal actually has three main definitions, but only two of them add to the corporal and corporeal mix-up. The irrelevant definition relates to army rankings. The following definitions cause confusion.
- What is corporal affects the body.
- A cloth on which elements of the Eucharist are placed.
So both meanings deal with body connotations and spiritual connotations.
Something that is corporeal relates to having a body or has a body or (in a law context) is tangible. Corporeal is often used to stress that something has a body and is not a spirit or spiritual. It is mortal. The word is more often used in literature or even religious writings.
So the meanings also have strong body connotations and spiritual connotations. Hence, the general confusion.
Their Usage And Some Examples
The use of corporal punishment, such as spanking, in schools has been banned in many countries.
– Corporal punishment means that the punishment affects the body. In this case, spanking would definitely affect the body. Ouch.
Ghosts aren’t real. Whatever you saw had a corporeal existence.
– Ghosts don’t have bodies, so they couldn’t have a corporeal existence.
Corporal and corporeal have been synonymous at various points in the past. They’ve also swapped definitions a few times in history as well. Language is inconsiderate like that. Today, though, it’s important that you make the distinction between their meanings and use them correctly.
Hopefully that clears up the confusion. Until next time, read up on another set of commonly confused words.