\ˈkȯrs \

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

a : racecourse

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

c : watercourse

d : golf course

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

(2) : life history, career

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

Went back the next day to answer some of his questions about it, and then the travel ban happens over the course of the weekend. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates explains how Donald Trump is trying to corrupt the Justice Department," 12 Nov. 2018 Over the course of their 16-day tour of the Oceania region, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have met thousands of fans, all eager to give their well-wishes to the royal couple and to congratulate them on their baby news. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Prince Harry Comforts Six-Year-Old Boy in New Zealand Who Lost His Mother," 30 Oct. 2018 Over the course of the weekend, the Magnolia Market founders passed out more than $85,000 for folks to start projects, sponsor charities, and more. Jessica Leigh Mattern, Country Living, "How Chip and Joanna Gaines Helped This Couple Adopt a Child With Down Syndrome," 23 Oct. 2018 To help alleviate the supply situation, Swan said Intel will invest a company-record $15 billion in capital expenditures over the course of the year, $1 billion more than previously anticipated. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Intel supply woes could lead to pricier PCs, or a stampede to AMD's Ryzen," 28 Sep. 2018 Over the course of human history, women have learned to get along with the boys. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why Conservative Women Are Ok with Harassment," 26 Sep. 2018 After years of fearing carbs, Silicon Valley is in love with bread — and, of course, tech bros are disrupting the 6,000-year-old craft of making dough. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Black Friday is the busiest time of year for professional line sitters," 21 Nov. 2018 Every Internet company wants to grow, of course, but some companies also try to promote other important values. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Sorry Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook isn’t a “positive force”," 21 Nov. 2018 Pelosi is shoring up her support for the speaker’s race with commitments like these: committee assignments, creation of subcommittees, and of course, promises of money for 2020 races. Ella Nilsen, Vox, "House progressives are getting ready to fight off Nancy Pelosi’s challengers.," 21 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Try breathing slowly and deeply, and imagining pleasure coursing through your entire body. Vanessa Marin, Allure, "Ask a Sex Therapist: Help, I Can't Tell If I Just Had My First Orgasm or Not," 16 July 2018 Because of that, Lipman, 58, can appreciate the delirium coursing through Winnipeg, the smallest market in the N.H.L., whose identity was wounded by the original Jets’ departure, after 17 meager seasons, to the Phoenix area in 1996. New York Times, "The Lonely Existence of Winnipeg Jets Fans in Atlanta," 6 May 2018 But these are the issues coursing through Capitol Hill when lawmakers are on recess. Kinda-sorta. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "McConnell threat to nix entire August recess fizzles," 3 Aug. 2018 But a handful of futuristic air-travel concepts signaled a new excitement coursing through the industry. Robert Wall, WSJ, "Air Taxis and Self-Driving Aircraft: Aviation Industry Faces Its Future," 21 July 2018 Residents, merchants and officials in Ellicott City awoke Monday to examine the devastation wrought by floods that coursed through the historic mill town the night before — the second time in less than two years. Kevin Rector,, "In morning after Ellicott City flood, locals reckon with damage: 'We can't let this community die'," 28 May 2018 The recovery efforts were interrupted Tuesday as a fiery mix of hot lava blocks, ash and volcanic gas coursed down the south side of the volcano. New York Times, "Guatemala Volcano Stirs Anew, and Survivors Wait for News," 5 June 2018 On April 16, the day the carnival barker Sean Hannity was revealed as a client of Trump’s fixer, Michael Cohen, most of political Twitter coursed with links to the revelations. Jason Pontin, WIRED, "Donald Trump and the Golden Age of Subtweeting," 4 May 2018 The race, accompanied by Christmas music, begins and ends at the Salvation Army’s facility at 1500 Austin St., coursing through downtown Houston. Terry St. John, Houston Chronicle, "Greater Houston athletic activities listings: July 6-8," 4 July 2018

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

10 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

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 \

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 \

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

What made you want to look up course? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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