noun dis·course \ˈdis-ˌkrs, dis-ˈ\

: the use of words to exchange thoughts and ideas

: a long talk or piece of writing about a subject

Full Definition of DISCOURSE

archaic :  the capacity of orderly thought or procedure :  rationality
:  verbal interchange of ideas; especially :  conversation
a :  formal and orderly and usually extended expression of thought on a subject
b :  connected speech or writing
c :  a linguistic unit (as a conversation or a story) larger than a sentence
obsolete :  social familiarity
:  a mode of organizing knowledge, ideas, or experience that is rooted in language and its concrete contexts (as history or institutions) <critical discourse>

Examples of DISCOURSE

  1. He likes to engage in lively discourse with his visitors.
  2. She delivered an entertaining discourse on the current state of the film industry.
  3. Hans Selye, a Czech physician and biochemist at the University of Montreal, took these ideas further, introducing the term stress (borrowed from metallurgy) to describe the way trauma caused overactivity of the adrenal gland, and with it a disruption of bodily equilibrium. In the most extreme case, Selye argued, stress could wear down the body's adaptation mechanisms, resulting in death. His narrative fit well into the cultural discourse of the cold-war era, where, Harrington writes, many saw themselves as broken by modern life. —Jerome Groopman, New York Times Book Review, 27 Jan. 2008


Middle English discours, from Medieval Latin & Late Latin discursus; Medieval Latin, argument, from Late Latin, conversation, from Latin, act of running about, from discurrere to run about, from dis- + currere to run — more at car
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms

ablaut, allusion, anacoluthon, diacritic, gerund, idiom, infinitive, metaphor, semiotics, simile


verb dis·course \dis-ˈkrs, ˈdis-ˌ\

: to talk about something especially for a long time


Full Definition of DISCOURSE

intransitive verb
:  to express oneself especially in oral discourse (see 1discourse)
:  talk, converse
transitive verb
archaic :  to give forth :  utter
dis·cours·er noun

Examples of DISCOURSE

  1. She could discourse for hours on almost any subject.
  2. <the guest lecturer discoursed at some length on the long-term results of the war>
  3. The most energetic ingredients in a Ken Burns documentary are the intervals of commentary, the talking heads of historians, sociologists, and critics coming at us in living color and discoursing volubly. —Richard Alleva, Commonweal, 22 Feb. 2002


(see 1discourse)
First Known Use: 1559


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debouch Hear it
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