cur·​ric·​u·​lum | \ kə-ˈri-kyə-ləm How to pronounce curriculum (audio) \
plural curricula\ kə-​ˈri-​kyə-​lə How to pronounce curriculum (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 History curriculum, books were written by and for white people. Erin Richards, USA TODAY, 30 Sep. 2021 Irma Becerra is president of Marymount University, a comprehensive doctoral-granting university known for its innovative curriculum. Irma Becerra, Forbes, 30 Sep. 2021 Our instructors transitioned their curriculum to be engaging, relevant and appropriate for online learning. Roxanne De La Rosa, The Arizona Republic, 24 Sep. 2021 Through the pioneering program, students experience running a live branch as part of their curriculum, working lunch hours or on weekends. oregonlive, 24 Sep. 2021 This is where these private partnerships are essential and creating a seachange in our academic curriculum. Ray Martinez, Fortune, 21 Sep. 2021 The district has repeatedly made statements that critical race theory is not part of its curriculum. Anna Caplan, Dallas News, 25 Aug. 2021 At Diné, what started as a community college with the first American Indian studies program developed into a four-year institution with Navajo culture infused throughout its curriculum. Dwight Weingarten, The Christian Science Monitor, 23 Aug. 2021 Its curriculum is based on rigorous training in traditional foundational skills, such as drawing, as a gateway to careers in graphic design, animation, industrial design, illustration, the crafts, and fine arts. Steven Litt, cleveland, 18 Aug. 2021

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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Learn More About curriculum

Time Traveler for curriculum

Time Traveler

The first known use of curriculum was in 1824

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Dictionary Entries Near curriculum



curriculum vitae

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Last Updated

9 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Curriculum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for curriculum



English Language Learners Definition of curriculum

: 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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