\ 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

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Examples of course in a Sentence

Noun 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. Verb the blood coursing through my veins Tears were coursing down his cheeks.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Hawaii is not the first state to pause or backtrack on its reopening plans, of course. Dawn Gilbertson, USA TODAY, "Scratch that August trip to Hawaii. The state just extended its quarantine until Sept. 1," 14 July 2020 Even in urban Anchorage, there are bears, moose, violent tides and, of course, killer mud. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, "The true history of Cook Inlet’s deadly mudflats," 13 July 2020 And, of course, getting intimate is definitely a high risk activity. Korin Miller,, "Is it Safe to Date During COVID-19? Here's How to Protect Yourself, According to Experts," 13 July 2020 This innovation, of course, also comes with a big price tag. Andrea Romano, Travel + Leisure, "These $26 Million Robot Dolphins May Be the Future of Aquariums," 13 July 2020 The other key factor was, of course, the source material itself. Emma Grey Ellis, Wired, "The Old Guard's Gina Prince-Bythewood on Avoiding ‘Sexy Catfights’," 13 July 2020 And, of course, wearing that much long-wear makeup so often can clog pores and cause all sorts of skin issues if it's not effectively removed before sleeping. Nicola Dall'asen, Allure, "6 Drag Race Stars Reveal Their Extensive Skin-Care Routines," 13 July 2020 Best with: mint, black raspberry, peanut butter and, of course, coffee, vanilla and chocolate ice creams. cleveland, "Ice cream toppings to help you chill out this summer," 13 July 2020 Fans of Supermarket Sweep will remember it fondly for the particularly questionable '90s fashion and, of course, contestants frantically zooming through supermarket aisles in search of very specific items for a chance to win huge prizes. Natasha Reda, Glamour, "Supermarket Sweep Is on Netflix and Fans Are Going Wild With Nostalgia," 12 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Think methods to predict how panic might course through the global financial system, or how bad information is transmitted on Facebook. Gregory Barber, Wired, "A Mathematician’s Guide to How Contagion Spreads," 7 July 2020 The fundamentals were all there, though, so there was an opportunity for the show to course correct. Brendan Morrow, TheWeek, "The Twilight Zone’s second season is far from perfect — but it’s promising," 27 June 2020 As daily protests continue to course through Milwaukee and cities across the country, the initial burst of fury over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police has blown open to reveal a deep, roiling rage in the souls of African Americans., "Fannie Lou Hamer's declaration 'I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired' is still a rally cry for Black people in Milwaukee," 25 June 2020 Those factors give the South a special vulnerability, as did the haphazard response from some governors as the disease began to course through the country. Margaret Newkirk,, "The South, Sickest Part of a Sick America, Falls Prey to Virus," 7 May 2020 Some spirit seemed to course through their horns, erupting and dispersing. Jon Pareles, New York Times, "Bon Iver’s Plea, and 8 More New Songs," 17 Apr. 2020 The sky over Capitan Peak was going from orange and pink to deep blue and black, and long skeins of sandhill cranes coursed overhead. T. Edward Nickens, Field & Stream, "A D.I.Y. Duck Hunt on Public Land in New Mexico," 10 Mar. 2020 Between the excessive amounts of caffeine coursing through her body from long days of preparation and the mounting stress from one of the most ambitious broadcast endeavors ever, sleep was ancillary for McKenna, the NFL’s Chief Information Officer. Tom Green |, al, "Meet the Auburn grad and behind-the-scenes star who saved the NFL Draft," 28 Apr. 2020 At the time, President Ronald Reagan wouldn’t acknowledge the disease by name in speeches and there was misinformation coursing through the public. Peter Hartlaub,, "Decades before coronavirus, a San Franciso AIDS conference changed Dr. Fauci’s life," 14 Apr. 2020

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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Learn More about course

Time Traveler for course

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for course

Last Updated

20 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Course.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for course


How to pronounce course (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for course

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with course

Spanish Central: Translation of course

Nglish: Translation of course for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of course for Arabic Speakers

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