cur·​ric·​u·​lum | \kə-ˈri-kyə-ləm \
plural curricula\ kə-​ˈri-​kyə-​lə \ 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

President Xi Jinping has taken up the soccer cause as a personal pet project, ordering that it be made part of the national school curriculum and encouraging major businesses to invest as a way of currying favor. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Why the world's biggest countries fail with the World Cup," 8 July 2018 Both bills call for the creation of a Civics Project Trust Fund to help implement the changes, including developing new curriculums and teacher training programs. Jamie Halper,, "Lawmakers consider new civics requirements for students," 21 June 2018 The standardized test won’t be tailored to the curriculum of General Assembly’s data science boot camp, Luke said. Ally Marotti,, "Companies in need of data scientists look to standardized test for hiring help," 5 July 2018 About 18,000 sixth-grade students have been taught the curriculum in the last three years. Diane Smith, star-telegram, "Texas Attorney General demands access to Fort Worth sex ed curriculum," 29 June 2018 New resources such as video for the program will also be bought for the curriculum at a cost of $11,567. Alec Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Grafton School District fifth-graders will now learn how to recognize, report sexual abuse," 26 June 2018 This content, which the curriculum divides into six periods, is typically covered over the course of two sequential college classes. Alia Wong, The Atlantic, "The Controversy Over Just How Much History AP World History Should Cover," 13 June 2018 While the state subsidizes these students’ education, Florida’s notoriously conservative Legislature prohibits the state’s Education Department from asking about the curriculum at these schools. Michael Harriot, The Root, "Slaves, Dinosaurs and White Jesus, Oh My! How Taxpayers Fund Crazy Christian Conservative Education," 12 June 2018 The bill would allow parents to withdraw their children from these lessons and would allow parents to review the curriculum. Melanie Thibeault,, "What I wish I had learned in middle-school sex ed," 11 June 2018

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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8 Nov 2018

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The first known use of curriculum was in 1824

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English Language Learners Definition of curriculum

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


cur·​ric·​u·​lum | \kə-ˈri-kyə-ləm \
plural curricula\ -​lə \ also curriculums

Kids Definition of curriculum

: all the courses of study offered by a school

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to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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