\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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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

It is not known what the course of action will be when the right-hander is healthy, especially considering the team’s inclination to see a number of younger pitchers in the season’s final months. Kevin Acee,, "Padres notes: Stammen runs into Utley; Lauer's limit; Lyles' rehab," 13 July 2018 Over the course of 12 months, the team became much smarter and more aggressive, and suddenly LeBron James is in L.A. Particularly with the Knicks, that's the dream. Andrew Sharp,, "Kevin Knox, Wendell Carter Jr., and Midsummer Hope for the Knicks and Bulls," 13 July 2018 Over the course of two evenings, four countries waited, and watched, as one. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Four Countries. Two Games. One Goal.," 12 July 2018 In so many cases throughout soccer’s past, access to video replays would have helped the referees correct their mistakes, possibly altering the course of the match—and history. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Fox News Power Rankings: Hello, Wisconsin," 12 July 2018 His advent could alter the course of national and state elections on July 25th. The Economist, "Pakistan’s former prime minister embraces jail to rally his party," 12 July 2018 Over the course of 10 days, the Butlers drove 900 miles across Colorado, Utah and Arizona. Donna Bulseco, WSJ, "The Great American Road Trip Goes Luxe—For Better or Worse," 12 July 2018 Over the course of that four-episode run, the series drew nearly 4 million views. Sydney Odman, The Hollywood Reporter, "Animal Planet Greenlights Star-Studded Animated Series 'Celebrity Animal Encounters' (Exclusive)," 12 July 2018 In so many cases throughout soccer’s past, access to video replays would have helped the referees correct their mistakes, possibly altering the course of the match—and history. Alejandro Chacoff, The Atlantic, "Soccer Has No Interest in Fairness," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 And Croatia, then only seven years old as a country, placed third in France in 1998, coursing through Romania and Germany before losing a semifinal to eventual winner France. Chuck Culpepper,, "World Cup final will include one of these teams: England, Croatia, Sweden, Russia. Really.," 4 July 2018 Sweat is detoxifying Some people pay good money to sit in a sauna and sweat out the bad stuff coursing through their bodies. Weldon B. Johnson, azcentral, "8 reasons to love the Phoenix heat in summer," 14 July 2018 This act of sabotage against fellow Ministers was jaw-dropping on so many levels—even for a politician for whom ambition is like a flesh-eating disease coursing through his body. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "British prime minister, predictably, loses her loud-mouthed foreign secretary.," 9 July 2018 My body is getting a high dosage of vitamins and minerals and fluids that it's never experienced — 3,500 milligrams of vitamin C coursing from the IV. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, "Feeling the drip, drip, drip of the mobile IV craze," 13 June 2018 Right now, plant vigor is moving from roots to leaves, but near winter that vigor will reverse, coursing from leaves to root. Margaret Lauterbach, idahostatesman, "Know the proper ways to attack all of our plentiful weeds," 1 June 2018 The hyperintelligent voice coursing through Heads of the Colored People sometimes summons David Foster Wallace. Brittany Allen, Longreads, "Masters of Contradiction," 24 May 2018 There was rosy bloom but also coursing intensity in her singing. Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, "Review: An Ecstatic ‘Rosenkavalier’ Introduces a Conductor to Carnegie," 30 Mar. 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

15 Oct 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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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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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