also quarter-master, early 15c., "subordinate officer of a ship," from French quartier-maître or directly from Dutch kwartier-meester; originally a ship's officer whose duties included stowing of the hold; later (c. 1600) an officer in charge of quarters and rations for troops. See quarters.
lowest noncommissioned army officer, 1570s, from French corporal, from Italian caporale "a corporal," from capo "chief, head," from Latin caput "head," also "leader, guide, chief person" (from PIE root *kaput- "head"). So called because he was in charge of a body of troops. Perhaps influenced by Italian corpo, from Latin corps "body." Or corps may be the source and caput the influence, as OED suggests.
Earlier it meant "a communion cloth" (late 14c.), from Medieval Latin corporalis (palla).
French national republican song, 1826, from fem. of adjective Marseillais "of Marseilles." The tune originally was "War Song for the Rhine Army," composed (for the Strasbourg volunteers) by royalist officer Capt. Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle (1760-1836); the current name is because it was sung enthusiastically by soldiers from Marseilles advancing on the Tuileries, Aug. 10, 1792. However, during the Revolution, the city was punished for its royalist Sympathies by being stripped of its name and called instead Ville-sans-Nom "city without a name" (which is, of course, a name).
war games played on maps with blocks representing bodies of soldiers, 1873 (once, from 1811, as a German word in English), from German Kriegsspiel, literally "war game," from Krieg "war," from Middle High German kriec, "combat," mostly "exertion, effort; opposition, enmity, resistance," from Old High German chreg "stubbornness, defiance, obstinacy," from Proto-Germanic *krig-, which is perhaps from PIE root *gwere- (1) "heavy" or cognate with Greek hybris "violence" (see hubris; also see war (n.)). For second element, see spiel (n.). Introduced 1870s as officer training in British army.