course

1 of 2

noun

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
3
a
: 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
5
a
: 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

course

2 of 2

verb

coursed; coursing

transitive verb

1
: to follow close upon : pursue
2
a
: 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
Phrases
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.

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
One major concern campers share when towing with an EV, of course, is range. Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN, 31 Mar. 2024 Reviewers have also noted how much faster Rosetta Stone’s 20-class courses progress compared to free language-learning services. Anna Tingley, Variety, 31 Mar. 2024 There are a lot of questions about what Ohtani knew and what information Mizuhara had and was not properly relaying to him, as well as, of course, broader speculation about what’s really going on here. Corbin Smith, Rolling Stone, 31 Mar. 2024 The Lakers, of course, and his dad made the bet and won. Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times, 31 Mar. 2024 Bridge The Gap with Education: Enroll in courses, workshops or webinars to gain the specific knowledge or certifications needed for your new career path. Cheryl Robinson, Forbes, 30 Mar. 2024 The hotel's success saw both peaks and valleys over the course of the century as the town evolved, particularly after the closure of the mines in the 1950s. The Arizona Republic, 30 Mar. 2024 For the next two minutes, the pilot took the only available steps to slow the vessel and alter its course, federal investigators said. William Wan, Washington Post, 30 Mar. 2024 Unemployed people, of course, are even less likely to spend, so prices would likely keep falling. Paul Wiseman, Fortune, 30 Mar. 2024
Verb
These transactions are the blood vessels coursing through in the veins and arteries of the health system, keeping it alive. Seth Joseph, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024 Over the past week, Tahoe experienced a series of winter storms as a result of an atmospheric river that coursed through California. Angela Rodriguez, Sacramento Bee, 5 Feb. 2024 Alpenglow’s group intro courses in mountaineering, avalanche rescue and more start around $275. Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times, 23 Jan. 2024 Unlike, say, fleece jackets, toppers ideal for sitting cozy by a campfire, or heavy-duty parkas, which are better suited for snow storms, hiking jackets are specifically engineered for coursing through winding trails in the cold for hours on end. Michael Stefanov, Robb Report, 17 Jan. 2024 Super Bowl 54 is fresh enough for a legitimate revenge factor to course throughout the affair, as plenty of the primary figures in that clash are still around for both Kansas City and San Francisco. Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, USA TODAY, 23 Feb. 2024 Gregg traces his fixation on the Western Flyer to his childhood growing up in coastal Georgia, where the sky was often coursed by contrails from Cape Canaveral. Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times, 3 Nov. 2023 The metaphysical synergy of music and family also courses through the Barretts. Kyle Denis, Billboard, 17 Feb. 2024 The emergence of a confidential FBI informant coursed through right-wing media, where talking heads and outlets spotlighted the claims as damning evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Oliver Darcy, CNN, 16 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'course.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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.

Verb

Middle English coursen "to pursue," derivative of cours course entry 1

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near course

Cite this Entry

“Course.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/course. Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

course

1 of 2 noun
ˈkō(ə)rs How to pronounce course (audio)
ˈkȯ(ə)rs
1
: the act or action of moving in a path from point to point
the planets in their courses
2
: the direction or route of motion or progress
the course of a river
a ship's course
3
: land laid out for golf
4
a
: normal or accustomed process or procedure
the disease ran its course
b
: manner of proceeding : conduct
a wise course
c
: progression through a period of time or a series of acts or events
was built in the course of a year
5
a
: an ordered process or series
b
: a series of classes in a subject
also : a group of such courses
a four-year course in chemistry
6
: a part of a meal served at one time
had salad for the first course
7
: a layer of brick or other building material in a wall

course

2 of 2 verb
coursed; coursing
1
: to run through or over
buffalo coursed the plains
2
: to move rapidly : race
blood coursing through the veins
Etymology

Noun

Middle English cours, course "action of moving in a certain path, path of movement, progress," from early French curs, course (same meaning), derived from Latin currere "to run" — related to corridor, current

Medical Definition

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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