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

Critics of the 2015 curriculum called it age inappropriate. Laignee Barron, Time, "Ontario Reverts to 1998 Sex-Ed Curriculum in a Win for 'Trump-Like' Premier Doug Ford," 12 July 2018 The program’s curriculum has expanded from solely music to also include dance and visual arts. Jordan Mcpherson, miamiherald, "This local group helps kids grow with music. On Friday, they will sing at Marlins Park," 12 July 2018 The New York law, penned in 2015, mandates that all schools must teach mental health as part of an overall health curriculum. Brooke Bunce, Teen Vogue, "New York and Virginia to Require Mental Health Education," 3 July 2018 With the shift to an academic curriculum and the virtual elimination of vocational preparation in high school, the K-12 system narrowed to a single academic track focused on college readiness. Anthony P. Carnevale, Washington Post, "The Education and Labor departments were made for each other," 22 June 2018 These kinds of unique opportunities and constant improvements to the curriculum are just the sorts of things that make Mercy a place where students can expand their horizons and grow throughout their time there. Kelsey Butler,, "Mercy Montessori is helping students grow with unique programs," 8 June 2018 During his time as dean, Fiedler helped bring in faculty and changes to curriculum to meet employers’ ever-changing needs and continue the college’s mission of sending thriving graduates into the communication world. Robert Steiner,, "BU College of Communication dean to step down," 6 June 2018 Milan Milasinovic, who became president in 2015, added business courses to the curriculum. Karen Farkas,, "Virginia Marti College of Art and Design to be renamed North Coast College," 7 May 2018 Fest said she's heard that many parents are spending hundreds to thousands of dollars on private tutoring for their kids to take the test this year, when the curriculum is fresh in their minds. Colleen Wright, miamiherald, "Traumatized Parkland underclassmen plead with Gov. Scott for break from standardized tests | Miami Herald," 2 May 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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11 Oct 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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