early 15c., "united in one body, constituted as a legal corporation," as a number of individuals empowered to do business as an individual, in early use often of municipalities, from Latin corporatus, past participle of corporare "make or fashion into a body, furnish with a body," also "to make into a corpse, kill," from corpus (genitive corporis) "body" (from PIE root *kwrep- "body, form, appearance"). The past participle, corporatus, also was used as a noun meaning "member of a corporation."
In reference to any body of persons united in a community from c. 1600. Related: Corporately; corporateness.
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