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).
late 14c., "material, physical; secular;" c. 1400, "of or belonging to the body;" from Old French corporal (12c., Modern French corporel) "of the body, physical, strong" and directly from Latin corporalis "pertaining to the body," from corpus (genitive corporis) "body" (from PIE root *kwrep- "body, form, appearance").
Corporal punishment "punishment of the body" (as opposed to fine or loss of rank or privilege) is from 1580s. Related: Corporality.
It forms all or part of: corporal (adj.) "of or belonging to the body;" corporate; corporation; corporeal; corps; corpse; corpulence; corpulent; corpus; corpuscle; corsage; corse; corset; incorporeal; incorporate; leprechaun; midriff.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit krp- "form, body;" Avestan kerefsh "form, body;" Latin corpus "body" (living or dead); Old English hrif "belly," Old High German href "womb, belly, abdomen."
It forms all or part of: achieve; behead; biceps; cabbage; cabochon; caddie; cadet; cap; cap-a-pie; cape (n.1) "garment;" cape (n.2) "promontory;" capital (adj.); capital (n.3) "head of a column or pillar;" capitate; capitation; capitulate; capitulation; capitulum; capo (n.1) "leader of a Mafia family;" capo (n.2) "pitch-altering device for a stringed instrument;" caprice; capsize; captain; cattle; caudillo; chapter; chef; chief; chieftain; corporal (n.); decapitate; decapitation; forehead; head; hetman; kaput; kerchief; mischief; occipital; precipice; precipitate; precipitation; recapitulate; recapitulation; sinciput; triceps.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit kaput-; Latin caput "head;" Old English heafod, German Haupt, Gothic haubiþ "head."
Lance corporal "private soldier performing the duties of a corporal" (1786) is a folk-etymology or partial nativizing of obsolete lancepesade "officer of lowest rank" (1570s), which is an Englishing of Old Italian lancia spezzata "old soldier," literally "broken lance."
"military attendant who carries orders," 1781, short for orderly corporal, etc. Extended 1809 to an attendant at a hospital (originally a military hospital) charged with keeping things clean and in order, from orderly (adj.) in the military sense of "of or pertaining to communication or execution of orders" (1723).
"inflict trouble or pain on for the purpose of correction," 1520s, with -en (1) + the word it replaced, obsolete verb chaste "to correct (someone's) behavior" (Middle English chastien, c. 1200), from Old French chastiier "to punish" (see chastise). Now chiefly in reference to moral discipline, divine rather than corporal punishment. Related: Chastened; chastening.
Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth [Hebrews xii.6]
"cylindrical vessel or cask, generally bulging in the middle and made of wooden staves bound by hoops," c. 1300, from Old French baril "barrel, cask, vat" (12c.), with cognates in all Romance languages (Italian barile, Spanish barril, etc.), but of unknown origin. Also a measure of capacity of varying quantity. Meaning "metal tube of a gun" is from 1640s. Barrel-roll (n.) in aeronautics is from 1920. To be over a barrel figuratively, "in a helpless or vulnerable condition," is by 1914 and might suggest corporal punishment.
"dining hall," especially in a monastery, early 15c., refectori, from Medieval Latin refectorium, "place of refreshment," from past participle stem of reficere "to remake, restore," from re- (see re-) + combining form of facere "to make, do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").
Middle English (and after) also had it as a verb, refeten, "to refresh, restore, feed" (late 14c.), from Anglo-French refeter, Old French refactier. Also refection "refreshment, nourishment," all ultimately from Latin. Some survive in specialized senses.
For after a draught of wine, a Man may seem lighter in himself from sudden refection, although he be heavier in the balance, from a corporal and ponderous addition; but a Man in the morning is lighter in the scale, because in sleep some pounds have perspired; and is also lighter unto himself, because he is refected. [Browne, "Vulgar Errors," iv. 7]
"moral fault, wickedness," c. 1300, from Old French vice "fault, failing, defect, irregularity, misdemeanor" (12c.), from Latin vitium "defect, offense, blemish, imperfection," in both physical and moral senses (in Medieval Latin also vicium; source also of Italian vezzo "usage, entertainment"), which is of uncertain origin.
Vice squad "special police unit targeting prostitution, narcotics, gambling, etc.," is attested from 1905, American English. Vice anglais "fetish for corporal punishment," literally "the English vice," is attested from 1942, from French. In Old French, the seven deadly sins were les set vices.
Horace and Aristotle have already spoken to us about the virtues of their forefathers and the vices of their own times, and through the centuries, authors have talked the same way. If all this were true, we would be bears today. [Montesquieu, "Pensées"]