\ ˈkȯrs How to pronounce course (audio) \

Definition of course

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the act or action of moving in a path from point to point the planets in their courses
2 : the path over which something moves or extends: such as
b(1) : the direction of travel of a vehicle (such as a ship or airplane) usually measured as a clockwise angle from north also : the projected path of travel
(2) : a point of the compass
3a : accustomed procedure or normal action the law taking its course
b : a chosen manner of conducting oneself : way of acting Our wisest course is to retreat.
c(1) : progression through a development or period or a series of acts or events the course of history
4 : an ordered process or succession: such as
a : a number of lectures or other matter dealing with a subject took a course in zoology also : a series of such courses constituting a curriculum a premed course
b : a series of doses or medications administered over a designated period
5a : a part of a meal served at one time the main course
b : layer especially : a continuous level range of brick or masonry throughout a wall
c : the lowest sail on a square-rigged mast
in due course
: after a normal passage of time : in the expected or allotted time His discoveries led in due course to new forms of treatment.
of course
1 : following the ordinary way or procedure will be done as a matter of course
2 : as might be expected Of course we will go.


coursed; coursing

Definition of course (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to follow close upon : pursue
2a : to hunt or pursue (game) with hounds
b : to cause (dogs) to run (as after game)
3 : to run or move swiftly through or over : traverse Jets coursed the area daily.

intransitive verb

: to run or pass rapidly along or as if along an indicated path blood coursing through the veins

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Synonyms & Antonyms for course

Synonyms: Noun

line, methodology, policy, procedure, program

Synonyms: Verb

bird-dog, chase, dog, follow, hound, pursue, run, shadow, tag, tail, trace, track, trail

Antonyms: Verb

guide, lead, pilot

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Examples of course in a Sentence


the course of a river The pilot brought the plane back on course. The ship was blown off course by a storm. She's taking a chemistry course this semester. Students earn the degree after a two-year course of study. There is no cure, but the treatment will slow the course of the disease.


the blood coursing through my veins Tears were coursing down his cheeks.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Synergies, of course, are very much in the eye of the beholder (or modeler), so any estimate is just that. Washington Post, "Barrick Swings Hard for Newmont - Maybe Too Hard," 18 Sep. 2019 Since the 1930s, kids have been playing with little green army men; those iconic figurines made out of plastic and posed into various combat positions—made famous in Toy Story, of course. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "‘Little Green Army Men’ Will Soon Feature Female Toy Soldiers," 17 Sep. 2019 The Air Force has its own internal cybersecurity team, of course, but its resources are finite. Wired, "The Air Force Will Let Hackers Try to Hijack an Orbiting Satellite," 17 Sep. 2019 And of course if fewer people vape, there will be fewer illnesses. NBC News, "Vaping 101: What to know about e-cigs, addiction and illnesses," 17 Sep. 2019 Helping others, of course, serves as a greater gift than any money could provide for the McMillans and their staff. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Southern Living, "This Incredible Brewton, Alabama Restaurant Is Donations Only," 17 Sep. 2019 There are some unassuming, excellent wine bars in the arches too—ask about the plat du jour and of course the vermouth, at Vermuteria, then move along for a glass of petit manseng and a slice of olive cake with cherry compote at The Drop. Vogue, "Where to Stay and Eat in London’s Renewed King’s Cross Neighborhood," 16 Sep. 2019 So, of course, finding the perfect color, formula, and tools to make your manicure look amazing and last is essential. Allure, "The 16 Best Nail Polishes and Nail-Care Products of the Year," 16 Sep. 2019 The watches will start shipping on September 20, and of course shipping times may vary. Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored, "You can already save on the Apple Watch Series 5 on Amazon," 16 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Nervous jitters coursed through her body, leftovers from the stressful rappelling. Heather Balogh Rochfort, The Know, "Why women-only adventure travel is surging," 31 Aug. 2019 Nervous jitters coursed through her body, leftovers from the stressful rappelling. Washington Post, "Why women-only adventure travel is surging," 23 Aug. 2019 As with much of Mr. Ferver’s work, darker currents coursed beneath a surface of spectacle and humor, here in the form of Mr. Whiteside’s almost maniacal allegiance to the song. Siobhan Burke, New York Times, "Review: Dancing Their Friends and Heroes (and My Little Pony)," 5 Apr. 2018 Our brand is thriving and leads the industry in popularity, but our balance sheet needs to course correct. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, "iPic Entertainment, luxury cinema pioneer, files for bankruptcy as rivals move in," 5 Aug. 2019 Nervous jitters coursed through her body, leftovers from the stressful rappelling. Heather Balogh Rochfort,, "Why women-only adventure travel is surging," 28 Aug. 2019 The melodic whisper-voice put me into a state of calm bliss, in a way that was no less satisfying than watching a YouTuber tap her fingernails against the microphone, or hearing the soft bristles of a paintbrush coursing against a blank wall. Arielle Pardes, WIRED, "Small Sounds, Big Money: The Commercialization of ASMR," 20 June 2019 This year, an average of about 508,000 barrels of oil a day has coursed through the 800-mile (1,288-kilometer) trans-Alaska pipeline, according to the pipeline operator. Becky Bohrer, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska’s oil money headaches: ‘We did this to ourselves’," 9 Aug. 2019 Galloway said lawmakers have thus far done a poor job of regulating Facebook, and that Libra is a chance to course-correct. Clare Duffy, CNN, "NYU professor: Regulators must keep Facebook's Libra from becoming a default currency," 8 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'course.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of course


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for course


Middle English cours, borrowed from Anglo-French cours, curs, going back to Latin cursus "action of running, charge, movement along a path, progress," from currere "to run, flow" + -tus, suffix of verbal action — more at current entry 1

Note: As pointed out by Michiel de Vaan (Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the Other Italic Languages, Leiden, 2008), the expected outcome of the verbal adjective in *-to- and the verbal noun in *-tū- would be *kostus < *korstus < *kr̥s-to-, kr̥s-tū-, from the verbal base *kr̥s- (> currere). The attested form cursus for both the past participle and verbal noun reflects remodeling on the pattern of stems ending in a dental (as morsus from mordere "to bite," versus from vertere "to turn"). As generally in Latin, the verbal noun, where full grade of the root would be expected, has been supplanted by zero grade of the verbal adjective.


Middle English coursen "to pursue," derivative of cours course entry 1

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Statistics for course

Last Updated

15 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for course

The first known use of course was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for course



English Language Learners Definition of course

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the path or direction that something or someone moves along
: a path or route that runners, skiers, bikers, etc., move along especially in a race
: a series of classes about a particular subject in a school



English Language Learners Definition of course (Entry 2 of 2)

: to move or flow quickly


\ ˈkȯrs How to pronounce course (audio) \

Kids Definition of course

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : motion from one point to another : progress in space or time The earth makes its course around the sun in 365 days. During the course of a year he meets dozens of people.
2 : the path over which something moves The ship was blown off course.
3 : a natural channel for water A trail follows the river's course.
4 : a way of doing something Choose a course of action.
5 : the ordinary way something happens over time the course of business
6 : a series of acts or proceedings arranged in regular order a course of therapies
7 : a series of classes in a subject a geography course
8 : a part of a meal served separately We ate a three course dinner.
of course
: as might be expected You know, of course, that I like you.


coursed; coursing

Kids Definition of course (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to run through or over
2 : to move rapidly : race


\ ˈkō(ə)rs, ˈkȯ(ə)rs How to pronounce course (audio) \

Medical Definition of course

1 : the series of events or stages comprising a natural process the course of a disease
2 : a series of doses or medications administered over a designated period a course of three doses daily for five days

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More from Merriam-Webster on course

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with course

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for course

Spanish Central: Translation of course

Nglish: Translation of course for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of course for Arabic Speakers

Comments on course

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