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I tried looking up the word "corps" on dictionary.reference.com and it says it's pronounced "kawr", "kohr", "kawrs", or "kohrs", none of which match the way I've always pronounced it with the "ps" sound. I have always been a little leery saying it this way because it sounds like a dead body, and if you're talking about the Marine Corps then this isn't the best mental image.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

"Corps" and "corpse" both have the same ultimate origin in Latin "corpus" (body).

The former derives from the Latin via Medieval French, as far as I know. The French pronunciation "korr" (or slightly Anglicised to "kohr" or even "kore") is thus the historically correct pronunciation.

Pronouncing it in any way ending with an "s" is not advisable. It certainly won't give others the impression that you're educated. (Worst of all is "corpse" - please never say it like that.)

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Thanks for the quick response. Is the "s" silent in the plural form too? –  Frank Pierce Dec 9 '10 at 21:36
    
@Frank: Indeed. Again, this follows from French, where the pronunciation of the single and plural forms are the same (both ending in 's'). –  Noldorin Dec 9 '10 at 21:46
    
@Erik Kowal - please read about out editing policies; that edit should not have been approved. Thanks. –  medica Jun 13 at 5:33

Corps, which is pronounced like "core," and corpse are two entirely different words, and I have never heard anyone pronounce them the same way. I've never heard anyone say Army "corpse" for example.

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I know Obama pronounced a variant "corpsman" as "corpse-man" (youtube.com/watch?v=ZlKIfzoC8D0), and I looked up "corps" as a result since I have been pronouncing it the same way. This is ultimately what lead me to ask this question in the first place... I just didn't want to start a political debate! –  Frank Pierce Dec 9 '10 at 22:01
    
I suspect that the existence of "corpse" is what has caused "corps" to retain its exotic pronunciation. In the case of "corpsman", there is no corresponding pressure. "Corpsman" might have come to be pronounced "core-man", but AFAIK it hasn't. –  Colin Fine Dec 10 '10 at 12:04
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@colin Just found this site in a related question forvo.com/search/corpsman –  mplungjan Feb 1 '11 at 12:10

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