\ 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 Canlis is one of Seattle’s highest-end restaurants, with a piano player who entertains customers at the bar and a four-course tasting menu that runs $135 a person. Ben Casselman, New York Times, "Coronavirus Cost to Businesses and Workers: ‘It Has All Gone to Hell’," 15 Mar. 2020 The closures marked a sudden change of course after the majority of the country's resorts vowed earlier Saturday to stay open during the crisis while taking measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Fox News, "Vail, Alterra close 49 ski resorts amid virus outbreak," 15 Mar. 2020 Additional amenities include a community garden, 18-hole disc golf course, dog park and mountain biking trails. Dallas News, "Celebrate spring with new models, neighborhoods, options," 14 Mar. 2020 The first musher to reach that milestone is treated to a five-course meal and other prizes. Loren Holmes, Anchorage Daily News, "Photos: Frosty dogs and fancy meals of the Iditarod," 14 Mar. 2020 No need to wait until the kids in your life are freshmen in college taking an intro gender theory course—picture books about feminist heroes, egalitarian fairytales, and funny, fresh takes on girlhood are available now. Jenny Singer, Glamour, "14 Feminist Kids’ Books for Imagining a Better World," 13 Mar. 2020 The antidote to the slow poison of parasocialization is, of course, socialization. Christopher Mims, WSJ, "The Internet Can’t Save Us From Loneliness in Pandemic," 13 Mar. 2020 Now every course—indeed, every community—has to decide how to think about elapsing time made suddenly terrifying. Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker, "The Coronavirus and the Ruptured Narrative of Campus Life," 12 Mar. 2020 Several universities have begun online-only courses, including the University of Washington, Stanford University and Columbia University. Olga R. Rodriguez, Daisy Nguyen, Houston Chronicle, "Some Americans aboard cruise ship struck by coronavirus will go to Texas Air Force base," 10 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Anger, outrage, and indignation coursed through the two-hour affair — spurred in part by the first debate appearance by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whom rivals accuse of trying to buy the election with his wealth. David Mark, Washington Examiner, "Bernie Sanders leading in Nevada caucuses," 22 Feb. 2020 The essay extends a theme of social criticism that has coursed through modern China, from Lu Xun to the writings of Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel laureate, who died in 2017 while serving an eleven-year prison sentence for subversion. Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, "China’s ‘Iron House’: Struggling Over Silence in the Coronavirus Epidemic," 12 Feb. 2020 Decades later, Rene Descartes concluded that tears were formed when hot blood mingled with cool animating winds that coursed throughout our bodies — a weather system inside us. Maureen Stanton, Longreads, "Through a Glass, Tearfully," 17 Jan. 2020 The Cheat River courses through one of the largest undammed watersheds in the eastern United States., "360 degrees of the Cheat River: A journey to revitalization on an Ohio River tributary," 30 Dec. 2019 Calamities will befall the March family, as will good fortune; heartache, romance, love and betrayal will course through their lives with epic intensity and humdrum dailiness. Ann Hornaday, Houston Chronicle, "‘Little Women’ is a very nearly perfect film, a new classic," 20 Dec. 2019 But a reconstruction of what started as an unremarkable summer Thursday reveals that even before daybreak, anxiety was coursing through the White House about a coming phone call that didn’t appear on the president’s public schedule. Nancy Benac, The Denver Post, "What happened on July 25, the day Trump asked Zelenskiy for a favor," 30 Nov. 2019 Very quickly, Elway discovered Fangio’s Way needed to be The Broncos’ New Way to course correct a franchise that had lost its collective way since winning the Super Bowl following the 2015 season. Ryan O’halloran, The Denver Post, "Broncos GM John Elway believes Vic Fangio is the right man with the right plan," 8 Sep. 2019 The adrenaline that courses through Pierce’s performance never lets up, even — no especially — when Willy is recalling a supposedly happier, easier past. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: Arthur Miller’s Dying ‘Salesman’ Is Reborn in London," 2 Jan. 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

18 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Course.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Apr. 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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