\ 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 The push to use robots is, of course, still in its early days. Jennifer Alsever, Fortune, "How Robots Are Changing the Construction Industry," 23 Nov. 2019 The mascot is the team logo come to life: A smiling blue creature wearing a silver garbage can with the matching lid atop his head and, of course, a raccoon’s tail. Paul Gattis |, al, "Rocket City Trash Pandas unveil team mascot: Sprocket," 23 Nov. 2019 In 1856, the United States passed a law that entitled citizens to take possession of any unclaimed island containing guano deposits—guano, of course, being the excrement of bats. Angela Serratore, Smithsonian, "The Ten Best History Books of 2019," 23 Nov. 2019 This sale takes place in conjunction with the Coventry Village Holiday Festival, which of course includes family-friendly activities happening at stores throughout the district. cleveland, "Deb Filler’s one-woman show, ‘I Did It My Way In Yiddish’ coming to Beachwood: Press Run," 23 Nov. 2019 Such wishful thinking, of course, permeates the present Trump administration, which routinely trashes the science in order to escape the regulatory consequences of accepting the science. The Economist, "Climate, freedom and denial: What “Green Thatcherism” teaches us today," 22 Nov. 2019 This is, of course, antithetical to one of the core tenets of electrification: Lightness. Eric Adams, Popular Mechanics, "9 Things You Need To Know About Tesla's Incredibly Weird and Possibly Genius Cybertruck," 22 Nov. 2019 That, of course, was the Miami football team’s longtime home before the Hurricanes moved to the Dolphins’ home stadium in Miami Gardens. David Furones,, "Yes, Marlins Park is the site of Miami-FIU football showdown," 22 Nov. 2019 Along the way, of course, Peyton is forced to address her feelings for Dr. Ben and perhaps, see if there's a chance her crush could become something more. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "Hallmark's 'Holiday Hearts' Shows Ashley Williams and Paul Campbell Rekindling an Old Romance," 22 Nov. 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 But medical records do not indicate that anyone ordered a blood test that could have detected the unprescribed insulin investigators suspect coursed through his veins, killing him. Dennis Wagner, USA TODAY, "Oversights, lapses at VA hospital risked veterans’ lives, limit evidence in homicide probe," 30 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 Mass shootings have made this kind of revisiting a way of not only celebrating those lost and checking in on the mourning, but also demanding a deeper examination of darker currents coursing through society. Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Grieving and forgiveness are focus of Charleston mass shooting documentary ‘Emanuel’," 16 Oct. 2019 And the trend has become even more pronounced following a series of court rulings and regulatory changes that allowed even more cash to course through elections. Brian Slodysko, Fortune, "Bullock Eyes Public Financing for 2020. Here’s What That Means—And Why It Could Be Risky," 30 Sep. 2019 And the trend has become even more pronounced following a series of court rulings and regulatory changes that allowed even more cash to course through elections. Brian Slodysko, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Montana Gov. Bullock eyes public financing for 2020 run," 29 Sep. 2019 The idea of ruins and of golden ages having gone by seem to course through Bastille’s songs. John Adamian,, "Best Bets: Seven concerts not to miss this week," 22 Sep. 2019 There are other themes coursing through this fall’s best theater offerings, of course. Lisa Kennedy, The Know, "From Steve Martin’s “Bright Star” to Cheryl Strayed’s “Tiny Beautiful Things,” 10 must-see fall plays in Colorado," 8 Sep. 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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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

26 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Course.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 9 December 2019.

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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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