cur·​ric·​u·​lum | \ kə-ˈri-kyə-ləm How to pronounce curriculum (audio) \
plural curricula\ kə-​ˈri-​kyə-​lə How to pronounce curricula (audio) \ also curriculums

Definition of curriculum

1 : the courses offered by an educational institution the high school curriculum
2 : a set of courses constituting an area of specialization the engineering curriculum the biological sciences curriculum the liberal arts curriculum

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The Different Plural Forms of Curriculum

Curriculum is from New Latin (a post-medieval form of Latin used mainly in churches and schools and for scientific coinages), in which language it means “a course of study.” It shares its ultimate root in classical Latin, where it meant “running” or “course” (as in “race course”), with words such as corridor, courier, and currency, all of which come from Latin currere “to run.”

As is the case with many nouns borrowed directly from Latin, there is often some confusion as to the proper way to form its plural. Both curricula and curriculums are considered correct.

This word is frequently seen in conjunction with vitae; a curriculum vitae (Latin for “course of (one’s) life”) is “a short account of one's career and qualifications prepared typically by an applicant for a position” – in other words, a résumé. Curriculum vitae is abbreviated CV, and is pluralized as curricula vitae.

Examples of curriculum in a Sentence

The college has a liberal arts curriculum.
Recent Examples on the Web The agency doesn’t operate its facilities directly, instead awarding grants to organizations, typically nonprofit and charitable concerns, to provide everything from food and beds to scholastic curriculum and therapy. Aaron Cantú, The New Republic, "How Democrats Abetted Trump’s Bloated Border Regime," 7 Jan. 2020 While Beijing has tried for years to push patriotic education here and state media have suggested that changes to the curriculum might solve the crisis, faculty, students and staff have resisted attempts to infringe on their academic independence. Laignee Barron/hong Kong, Time, "A Siege in Hong Kong Heralds a New Phase of Protest," 21 Nov. 2019 Despite some parents’ concerns, Hinsdale High School District 86 is proceeding with changes to the science curriculum that administrators believe will help more students enjoy science and master the concepts taught in each class. Kimberly Fornek,, "Hinsdale District 86 standing by new science sequence, despite some parents’ concerns," 15 Nov. 2019 Mississippi has put a big focus on literacy, high standards, tests that are well aligned to the curriculum and a strong accountability system. Arne Duncan, Twin Cities, "Arne Duncan: The nation’s report card offers lessons," 7 Nov. 2019 In November 2018, about 200 residents signed a petition demanding that the School Committee hold a public meeting over the issue and requested the board fire Superintendent David Fleishman and make changes to the curriculum., "In the School Committee race, the only incumbent running for reelection is the board’s chairwoman, Ruth Goldman, who faces Galina Rosenblit in the race to represent Ward 6 on the School Committee.," 1 Nov. 2019 Universities are adding the programs to curriculums to capitalize on the competitive game industry’s boom. San Diego Union-Tribune, "10 Things to Know for Today," 1 Oct. 2019 Today, Piglet’s story of overcoming his handicaps is the subject of a downloadable curriculum called the Piglet Mindset, which teaches kids about acceptance and compassion. Kelli Bender,, "Pets of the Year: The Most Amazing Rescues, Hilarious Animals and Wild Stories of 2019," 16 Dec. 2019 One of the defining characteristics of classical education is a broad curriculum, Cerny said. Meg Wingerter, The Denver Post, "Jeffco elementary will be latest Colorado school to adopt “classical” teaching model," 15 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'curriculum.' 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 curriculum

1824, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for curriculum

borrowed from New Latin, going back to Latin, "action of running, course of action, race," from currere "to run" + -i- -i- + -culum, suffix of instrument and place (going back to Indo-European *-tlom) — more at current entry 1

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Time Traveler for curriculum

Time Traveler

The first known use of curriculum was in 1824

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Statistics for curriculum

Last Updated

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Curriculum.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for curriculum


How to pronounce curriculum (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of curriculum

formal : the courses that are taught by a school, college, etc.


cur·​ric·​u·​lum | \ kə-ˈri-kyə-ləm How to pronounce curriculum (audio) \
plural curricula\ -​lə \ also curriculums

Kids Definition of curriculum

: all the courses of study offered by a school

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Comments on curriculum

What made you want to look up curriculum? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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