Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Ballentine's Law Dictionary

    A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law. See 17 U. S. 518, 4 L. Ed. 629.

  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    An artificial person or legal entity created by or under the authority of the laws of a state or nation, composed, in seme rare instances, of a single person and his successors, being the incumbsnts of a particular office, but ordinarily consisting of an association of numerous individuals, who subsist as a body politic under a special denomination, which is regarded In law as having a personality and existence distinct from that of its several members, and which is, by,the same authority, vested with the capacity of continuous succession, irrespective of changes in its membership, either in perpetuity or for a limited term of years, and of acting as a unit or single individual in matters relating to the common purpose of the association, within the scope of the powers and authorities cohferred upon such bodies by law. See Case of Sutton's Hospital, 10 Coke, 32; Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 4 Wheat 518, 636, 657, 4 In Ed. 629; U. S. v. Trinidad Coal Co., 137 U. S. 160, 11 Sup. Ct. 57, 34 In Ed. 640; Andrews Bros. Co. v. Youngstown Coke Co, 86 Fed. 585, 30 C. C. A. 293; Porter v. Railroad Co., 76 111. 573; State v. Payne, 129 Mo. 468, 31 S. W. 707, 33 In R. A. 576; Farmers' L. & T. Co. v. New York, 7 Hill —A business corporation is one formed for the purpose of transacting business in the widest sense of that term, including not only trade and commerce, but manufacturing, mining, banking, insurance, transportation, and practically every form of commercial or industrial activity where the purpose of the organization is pecuniary profit; contrasted with religious, charitable, educational, and other like organizations, which are sometimes grouped in the statutory law of a state under the general designation of "corporations not for profit." Winter v. Railroad Co., 30 Fed. Cas. 329; In re Independent Ins. Co., 13 Fed. Cas. 13; McLeod v. College, 69 Neb. 550, 96 N. W. 265. Corporation de facto. One existing under color of law and in pursuance of an effort made in good faith to organize a corporation under the statute; an association of men claiming to be a legally incorporated company, and exercising the powers and functions of a corporation, but without actual lawful authority to do se. Foster v. Hare, 26 Tex. Civ. App. 177, 62 S. W. 541; Attorney General v. Stevens, 1 N. J. Eq. 378, 22 Am. Dee, 526; Manufacturing Co. v. Schofield, 28 Ind. App. 95, 62 N. E. 106; Cedar Rapids Water Co. v. Cedar Rapids, 118 Iowa, 234, 91 N. W. 1081; Johnson v. Okerstrom, 70 Minn. 303, 73 N. W. 147; Tuiare Irrig. Dist v. Shepard, 185 TJ. S. 1, 22 Sup. Ct. 531, 46 L. Ed. 773; In re Gibbs' Estate, 157 Pa. 59, 27 AU. 383, 22 In R. A. 276; Pape v. Bank, 20 Kan. 440, 27 Am. Rep. 183. Joint-stock corporation. This differs from a joint-stock company in being regularly incorporated, instead of being a mere partnership, but resembles it in having a capital divided into shares of stock. Most business corporations (as distinguished from eleemosynary corporations) are of this character. Moneyed corporations are, properly speaking, those dealing in money or in the business of receiving deposits, loaning money, and exchange; but in a wider sense the term is applied to all business corporations having a money capital and employing it in the conduct of their business. Mutual Ins. Co. v. Erie County, 4 N. Y. 444; Giliet v. Moody, 3 N. Y. 487; Vermont Stat. 1894, § 3674; Hill v. Reed, 16 Barb. (N, Y.) 287; In re California Pac. R. Co., 4 Fed. Cas. 1,060; Hobbs v. National Bank, 101 Fed. 75, 41 O. C. A. 205. Municipal corporations. See that title. Pnblic-service corporations. Those whose operations serve the needs of the general public or conduce to the comfort and convenience of an entire community, such as rallroads, gas, water, and electric lig&t companies. The business of such companies is said to be "affected with a public interest," and for that reason they are subject to legislative regulation and control to a greater extent than corporations not of this character. Quasi corporations. Organizations resembling corporations; mimicipal societies or similar bodies which, though not true corporations in all respects, are yet recognized, by statutes or immemorial usage, as persons or aggregate corporations, with precise duties which may be enforced, and privileges which may be maintained, by suits at law. They may be considered quasi corporations, with limited powers, co-extensive with the duties imposed upon them by statute or usage, but restrained from a general use of the authority which belongs to those metaphysical persons by the common law. Scates v. King, 110 111. 456; Adams v. Wiscasset Bank, 1 Me. 361, 1 Am. Dec. 88; Lawrence County v. Railroad Co., 81 Ky. 227; Barnes v. District of Columbia, 91 U. S. 552, 23 L. Ed. 440. This term is lacking in definiteness and precision. It appears to be applied indiscriminately (a) to ali kinds of municipal corporations, the word "quasi" being introduced because it is said that these are not voluntary organizations like private corporations, but created by the legislature for its own purposes and without reference to the wishes of the people of the territory affected ; (b) to ali municipal corporations except cities and incorporated towns, the latter being considered the only true municipni corporations because they exist and act under charters or statutes of incorporation while counties, school districts, and the like are merely created or set off under general laws; (c) to municipal corporations possessing only a low order of corporate existence or the most limited range of corporate powers, such as hundreds in England, and counties, villages, and school districts in America. Quasi public corporation. This term is sometimes applied to corporations which are not strictly public, in the sense of being organized for governmental purposes, but whose operations contribute to the comfort, convenience, or welfare of the general public, such as telegraph and telephone companies, gas, water, and electric light companies, and irrigation companies. More commonly and more correctly styled "public-service corporations." See Wiemer v. Louisville Water Co. (C. C.) 130 Fed. 251; Cumberland Tel. Co. v. Evansville (C. C.) 127 Fed. 187; McKim v. Odom, 3 Bland (Md.) 419; Campbell v. Watson, 62 N. J. Eq. 396, 50 Atl. 120. Spiritual corporations. Corporations, the members of which are entirely spiritual persons, and incorporated as such, for the furtherance of religion and perpetuating the rights of the church. Trading corporations. A trading corporation is a commercial corporation engaged in buying and selling. The word "trading," is much narrower in scope than "business," as applied to corporations, and though a trading corporation is a business corporation, there are many business corporations which are not trading companies. Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 4 Wheat 669, 4 L. Ed. 629; Adams v. Railroad Co., 1 Fed. Cas. 92. Tramp corporations. Companies chartered in one state without any intention of doing business therein, but which carry on their business and operations wholly in other states. State v. Georgia Co., 112 N. C. 34, 17 S. E. 10, 19 In R. A. 485. Synonyms. The words "company" and "corporation" are commonly used as interchangeable terms. In strictness, however, a company is an association of persons for business or other purposes, embracing a considerable number of individuals, which may or may not be incorporated. In the former case, it is legally a partnership or a joint-stock company; in the latter case, it is properly called a "corporation." Goddard v. Railroad Co., 202 111. 362, 66 N. E. 1066; Bradley Fertilizer Co., v. South Pub. Co., 4 Misc. Rep. 172, 23 N. Y. Supp. 675; Com. v. Reinoehl, 163 Pa. 287, 29 Atl. 896, 25 L E. A. 247; State v. Mead, 27 Vt 722; Leader Printing Co. v. Lowry, 9 Okl. 89, 59 Pac. 242. For the particulars in which corporations differ from "Joint-Stock Companies" and "Partnerships," see those titles.