Word Confusion: Core vs Corps vs Corpse

Posted February 20, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

It would appear to be an odd trio, unfortunately I have encountered word confusions between core and corps and corps and corpse. I can almost understand confusing the first two. I mean, maybe the author meant the core of the corps? The last two I’m hoping were too-fast fingers that kept skipping that e. Although, I suppose it could be a truly depressing military tale in which the body count of the corps resulted in too many corpses.

I know, grim. And as an editor, I find this confusion to be grim as well, just not the same level of grim.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Core Corps Corpse
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: corps and corpse

“Apple Stark” by Roberta F. [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

One artistic looking apple core.

“Marine Corps platoon” by Corporal Justin J. Shemanski, USMC, is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

“Buchenwald Corpses” was photographed by Clinton C. Gardner, circa Apr 14, 1945 and is in the public domain [United States Holocaust Memorial Museum], courtesy of Norman M. Faye, via Wikimedia Commons

Part of Grammar:
Abbreviation; Adjective; Combined Form; Noun; Verb, transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: cores
Past tense or past participle: cored
Gerund or present participle: coring

Plural: corps
Plural: corpses
An initialism, CORE stands for Congress of Racial Equality

The part of something that is central to its existence or character

Combined Form:
Used as the second element of various compounds

Denoting types of rock or dance music that have an aggressive presentation

Indicating the number of processing units working in parallel in a computer

Tough central part of various fruits, containing the seeds

Central or most important part of something, in particular

  • Important or unchanging group of people forming the central part of a larger body
  • Dense central region of a planet, esp. the nickel–iron inner part of the earth
  • Central part of a nuclear reactor, which contains the fissile material
  • Tiny ring of magnetic material used in a computer memory to store one bit of data, now superseded by semiconductor memories
  • Inner strand of an electrical cable or rope
  • Piece of soft iron forming the center of an electromagnet or an induction coil
  • Internal mold filling a space to be left hollow in a casting
  • Cylindrical sample of rock, ice, or other material obtained by boring with a hollow drill
  • [Archaeology] A piece of flint from which flakes or blades have been removed

Verb, transitive:
Remove the tough central part and seeds from a fruit

To cut from the central part

To remove (a cylindrical sample) from the interior, as of the earth or a tree trunk

To form a cavity in (a molded object) by placing a core, as of sand, in the mold before pouring

Main subdivision of an armed force in the field, consisting of two or more divisions

  • Branch of a military organization assigned to a particular kind of work
  • Body of people engaged in a particular activity
  • Short for corps de ballet

[Printing] A Continental designation that, preceded by a number, indicates size of type in Didot points of 0.0148 inches (3.8 mm)

[Obsolete] Corpse

A dead body, especially of a human being rather than an animal

  • Cadaver

Something no longer useful or viable

[Obsolete] A human or animal body, whether alive or dead

CORE is a U.S. civil rights organization that played a pivotal role for African Americans in the Civil Rights Movement.

Managers can concentrate on their core activities.

The plan has the interests of children at its core.

Combined Form:
Queercore is a cultural and social movement that began in the mid-1980s as an offshoot of punk.

Dancecore is a classification for a music track that has been remixed in such a way as to make it sound harder, faster, and more “extreme”.

Greg bought himself a quad-core computer.

an apple core

We pulled 20 core samples from field 28.

Henry found a core sample he believes is the origin for the blades Jane found.

Verb, transitive:
Peel and core the pears.

Core a sample for some sixty feet and assess the geographic strata.

We’ll need to core the ocean bottom.

The 5th Army Corps was one of three corps the Italian Army fielded during the Cold War.

He’s with the U.S. Army Medical Corps.

Let the press corps in.

He’s with the diplomatic corps.

We’ll use a 14 corps on this job.

The medical examiner performed an autopsy on the corpse.

The corpses were piling up as the plague continued.

It was a graveyard of rusting corpses of ancient cars.

The CSI shows go through a lot of corpses.

Adjective: coreless
Noun: corer
History of the Word:
Middle English, of unknown origin. Late 16th century from the French and originally from the Latin corpus meaning body. Middle English denoting the living body of a person or animal.

It’s an alteration of corse by association with the Latin corpus, a change that also took place in French with the Old French cors becoming corps. The p was originally silent, per French pronunciation while the final e was rare before the 19th century, but now that e distinguishes corpse from corps.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

“Ossuary in Sedlec” is Jan Kameníček’s own work [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.