discourse

noun
dis·​course | \ ˈdi-ˌskȯrs How to pronounce discourse (audio) , di-ˈskȯrs \

Definition of discourse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : verbal interchange of ideas especially : conversation
2a : formal and orderly and usually extended expression of thought on a subject
b : connected speech or writing
c : a linguistic unit (such as a conversation or a story) larger than a sentence
3 : a mode of organizing knowledge, ideas, or experience that is rooted in language and its concrete contexts (such as history or institutions) critical discourse
4 archaic : the capacity of orderly thought or procedure : rationality
5 obsolete : social familiarity

discourse

verb
discoursed; discoursing

Definition of discourse (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to express oneself especially in oral discourse

transitive verb

archaic : to give forth : utter

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Other Words from discourse

Verb

discourser noun

Examples of discourse in a Sentence

Noun Hans Selye, a Czech physician and biochemist at the University of Montreal, took these ideas further, introducing the term "stress" (borrowed from metallurgy) to describe the way trauma caused overactivity of the adrenal gland, and with it a disruption of bodily equilibrium. In the most extreme case, Selye argued, stress could wear down the body's adaptation mechanisms, resulting in death. His narrative fit well into the cultural discourse of the cold-war era, where, Harrington writes, many saw themselves as "broken by modern life." — Jerome Groopman, New York Times Book Review, 27 Jan. 2008 Such is the exquisite refinement of American political discourse in the early 21st century. — Brad Friedman, Mother Jones, January & February 2006 Literature records itself, shows how its records might be broken, and how the assumptions of a given discourse or culture might thereby be challenged. Shakespeare is, again, the great example. — Richard Poirier, Raritan Reading, 1990 He likes to engage in lively discourse with his visitors. She delivered an entertaining discourse on the current state of the film industry. Verb The most energetic ingredients in a Ken Burns documentary are the intervals of commentary, the talking heads of historians, sociologists, and critics coming at us in living color and discoursing volubly. — Richard Alleva, Commonweal, 22 Feb. 2002 Clarke had discoursed knowledgeably on the implications of temperature for apples; it was too cool here for … Winesaps, or Granny Smiths, none of which mature promptly enough to beat autumn's first freeze. — David Guterson, Harper's, October 1999 … Bill Clinton was up in the sky-box suites, giving interviews. So The Baltimore Sun's guy on the job was Carl Cannon and he took notes while Clinton discoursed on the importance of Ripken's streak, the value of hard work, the lessons communicated to our youth in a nation troubled by blah blah blah. — Richard Ben Cramer, Newsweek, 22 Mar. 1999 She could discourse for hours on almost any subject. the guest lecturer discoursed at some length on the long-term results of the war
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The humanitarian crisis has fallen out of media discourse, given the speed of our current news state. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, "Gabriela Hearst to Donate 100 Percent of Proceeds to Help Children in Yemen," 2 Dec. 2019 Thrive in a setting of civilized discussion with this engaging form of philosophical discourse. Occurs on the second Wednesday of the month. Alan Goch, sun-sentinel.com, "Events for Broward and Miami-Dade counties for Nov. 27-Dec. 3," 25 Nov. 2019 American intelligence officials and Fiona Hill, a Russia expert who served on Mr. Trump’s National Security Council, say that the falsehood has infected American discourse as part of a yearslong disinformation campaign by Russia. New York Times, "New Documents Reveal Details of Pompeo’s Role in Ukraine Affair," 23 Nov. 2019 Mitch’s murky, sub-Lauer sins and Carell’s operatic tears hint at moral ambiguity without confronting it, and Ehrin adds little (in the three episodes sent to critics) to the #MeToo discourse. Judy Berman, Time, "The Morning Show," 28 Oct. 2019 Homosexuality is another area of silently desperate confusion in today’s discourse. Madeleine Kearns, National Review, "Douglas Murray’s The Madness of Crowds Offers Sanity and Hope," 24 Oct. 2019 Campuses across the country have been roiled by protests over controversial speakers and questions about political intolerance — a reflection, some say, of the hardening divide between the left and the right in American discourse. Washington Post, "Harvard paper blasted for seeking immigration agency comment," 23 Oct. 2019 But until recently, Dosch explains, women weren’t deemed worthy of either those roles, or part of that public discourse. Sofia Quaglia, Quartz, "The US has fewer than 400 statues of women—but that’s changing," 23 Oct. 2019 Local control is a matter of political discourse under the Gold Dome and has always been subject to the whims and vagaries of 100 individuals at any one time. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Women’s rights have come so far; Figure it out, Kroenke; Diagnosis can only tell so much; Local control can cut both ways (10/15/19)," 15 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In the audience plump dignitaries in bright orange turbans sat comfortably on white leather armchairs, discoursing on the spectacle. The Economist, "In the ring with India’s most powerful woman," 25 Oct. 2019 Knights, serfs, monks, men-at-arms, artisans, and shopkeepers traveled these pungent ways, discoursing loudly in decayed Latic and foreign tongues ranging from English to Syrian. Bruce Dale, National Geographic, "Adored, neglected, and restored: A 1968 Nat Geo feature explored Notre Dame," 17 Apr. 2019 That book opens with a group of Cambridge youths discoursing prettily on the existence of a cow on a riverbank. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Alan Hollinghurst’s Long Journey," 30 Mar. 2018 On the way there, Ed discoursed on Hebrew dialects in the Biblical era, which led to a lively discussion of some arcane points of Catholic Church governance. Fred Schwarz, National Review, "Bill Buckley’s Last Supper," 10 Feb. 2018 Similar themes are discernable in US discourses occurring after and in reaction to the first Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani nuclear tests. Terrell Jermaine Starr, The Root, "Why We Should Fear a North Korean Nuclear Attack, Explained," 2 Oct. 2017 Shaffer's play opens with Lettice Douffet, a classically quirky old-lady character, discoursing on the history of a stately British home. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "Westport's 'Lettice & Lovage' Delightfully Messes With Your Head," 7 June 2017 In his weekly addresses to the nation, Gen. Prayuth has discoursed on subjects ranging from the best way to cook rice to gardening tips. James Hookway, WSJ, "Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Set to Gain Clout in Royal Succession," 17 Oct. 2016 The freedoms to live out your true sexual identity or use a bathroom without being discriminated against are not akin to discourse about the Trans-Pacific Partnership or Super PACs. Sarah Rense, Esquire, "Sam Bee Is at the Top of Her Game, So of Course a Columnist Tries to Take Her Down," 21 Sep. 2016

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

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Verb

1547, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for discourse

Noun

Middle English discours "capacity for reasoning," borrowed (with assimilation to cours course entry 1 and other derivatives) from Medieval Latin discursus, going back to Late Latin, "exchange of ideas," going back to Latin, "action of running in different directions," from discurrere "to run off in different directions, (of the mind or a speaker) branch out, range," from dis- dis- + currere "to run" — more at current entry 1

Note: For formation of the verbal noun cursus see etymology and note at course entry 1.

Verb

derivative of discourse entry 1, in part after Middle French discourir "to treat, deal with," descourir "to converse"

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Time Traveler for discourse

Time Traveler

The first known use of discourse was in the 15th century

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Statistics for discourse

Last Updated

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Discourse.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discourse. Accessed 7 December 2019.

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More Definitions for discourse

discourse

noun
How to pronounce discourse (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of discourse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

formal
: the use of words to exchange thoughts and ideas
: a long talk or piece of writing about a subject

discourse

verb

English Language Learners Definition of discourse (Entry 2 of 2)

formal : to talk about something especially for a long time

discourse

noun
dis·​course | \ ˈdis-ˌkȯrs How to pronounce discourse (audio) \

Kids Definition of discourse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

2 : a long talk or essay about a subject

discourse

verb
dis·​course | \ dis-ˈkȯrs How to pronounce discourse (audio) \
discoursed; discoursing

Kids Definition of discourse (Entry 2 of 2)

: to talk especially for a long time

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Comments on discourse

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