TO HAVE THE BODY
Habeas corpus is a legal term of art that requires a government to show justification for the imprisonment of a person. Basically, it means that we can't imprison people without cause. Because this involves holding people in prison, it makes sense that the Latin phrase literally translates into "have the body" (or, in plural, habeas corpora). This refers to the person in custody and not an actual body as proof, as some people mistakenly believe. Habeas, through Proto-Italic habeo, comes from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction gehb, meaning "to take" (also the etymon of Modern English have, through Old English hafian and Proto-Germanic habjana, "to lift"). Corpus, as one may imagine, is the progenitor of corpse (through Old French cors) and corps (through French corps d'armee, "army body"). This is reconstructed to Proto-Indo-European krep, also meaning "body", with a brief pit stop in Proto-Italic.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic. This year, I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government and Linguistics. There, I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society and wrote a thesis on Serbo-Croatian language policy, magna cum laude. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.