When writing a Reddit post in Latin, I used the word "corpus" in the singular when stating the second law of thermodynamics:

Secunda lex thermodynamicae docet nobis quia nullum corpus potest agere laborem (productum fortiae et distantiae, quod metimur in joulibus) ex sua ipsius energia internale. Per secundam legem thermodynamicae, corpus, ut possit laborem facere, debet energiam accipere ab alio altero corpore.

Is that correct?


1 Answer 1


Yes, corpus is correct for "body" in the sense used in physics. That is the word Newton used in his laws of motion:

  1. Corpus omne perseverare in statu suo quiescendi vel movendi uniformiter in directum, nisi quatenus a viribus impressis cogitur statum illum mutare.
  2. Mutationem motus proportionalem esse vi motrici impressæ, & fieri secundum lineam rectam qua vis illa imprimitur.
  3. Actioni contrariam semper & æqualem esse reactionem: sive corporum duorum actiones in se mutuo semper esse æquales & in partes contrarias dirigi.
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    And using "fortia" for "force" is... incorrect, or? Jan 10 at 10:45
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    @FlatAssembler As you can see, Newton uses vis. I haven't come across fortia for "force" and it does strike me as odd.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jan 10 at 11:35
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    I would venture that corpus be also correct when talking about fields and skew fileds in abstract algebra. Jan 11 at 3:25
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    @NicolasMiari I wouldn't use corpus for that, but figuring out the correct translation should be taken to a separate question.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jan 11 at 6:39
  • @JoonasIlmavirta The concept itself is from the 19th century if I'm not mistaken, so defintiely not the same era as Newton... But the original is German Körper, and all romance languages seem to use a descendant of corpus as well (English seems to be the outlier)... Acknowledging the derailing the discussion, and out of curiosity: What would you use instead? Jan 12 at 3:50

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