To the Core

Another day, another Trump tweet, another nugget of stupidity. As if the Space Force Saturday-morning cartoon wasn’t enough, he then misspelled Marine Corps as Marine Core. At least though, it’s a somewhat understandable misspelling, the words sound the same, and in meaning the words corps and core are similar in a way.

Corps comes from the Old French cors (explaining why the P and S are silent, as they would be in French), which meant body (and corps is the modern French for body, pronounced much as it is in English). The meaning of the word expanded from just physical bodies to a body of citizens (probably based on the metaphor of a society as an organism), and came to be used specifically to refer to a group of soldiers from the 17th-century French phrase corps d’armée. We can also see the influence of this sense of the word in the military rank corporal, as well as the term corporal punishment (punishment of the body). And corpse, of course.

Core is also related to the body, but in a more specific way. It comes from the French coeur, meaning heart (still the same in modern French), and may have come to be used in a general sense in English from being used to refer to the “hearts” of vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage. I think it’s nice to imagine whenever you use the word core that you’re actually referring to a heart. It’s lovely to imagine the Earth’s core as the heart of Mother Earth, for example.

So maybe, when he tweeted Marine Core, Trump was actually consciously drawing a link between the physical origins of both core and corps. Or perhaps he was subtly suggesting that the Marine Corps are the heart of the United States military.

Or perhaps he’s just an idiot.

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