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 Although Latin has not been used in everyday discourse for well over a millennium, reports of its death were, for Father Foster, greatly exaggerated. Margalit Fox, New York Times, "Reginald Foster, Vatican Latinist Who Tweeted in the Language, Dies at 81," 27 Dec. 2020 Yet a look around the country shows achievements at the grass-roots on matters that seem beyond resolution in Washington—starting with lowering the volume and temperature in public discourse. Gerald F. Seib, WSJ, "Far From Washington, Americans Are Finding Local Solutions," 11 Dec. 2020 Protocol and ceremony have roles to play in international discourse, and wine is an important part of them. Washington Post, "Crack open the best 2020 wine books for rich history, international politics and a vintner’s lively memoir," 11 Dec. 2020 There are far fewer digital outlets occupying real space in the daily discourse and almost none that feel like the small, scrappy, and genuinely independent outlets of the past. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "The Desperate Year of the Digital Media Titans," 23 Nov. 2020 Formerly organized by the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society, Words & Music is now run by One Book One New Orleans, which each year chooses a book and encourages locals to engage in public discourse around it. Will Coviello, NOLA.com, "Words & Music virtual festival features Sarah Broom, Maurice Carlos Ruffin and many others," 16 Nov. 2020 Division in society is not a rhetorical failure by one political party, or a mysterious disease in the public discourse to diagnose. Frank Shyong Columnist, Los Angeles Times, "Column: As Trump leaves office, we talk about ‘bridging divides.’ Is that really possible?," 16 Nov. 2020 Dennis also found that with relying on our communities to participate in political discourse, comes the uptick in social media use. Brooklyn White, Essence, "This Video Explaining The Root Of Political Divisiveness In America Is A Must-Watch," 2 Nov. 2020 The Houston native, 27, uses the city as both muse and backdrop for his award-winning fiction, offering up a slice of the melting pot that doesn't often get its due in popular discourse. Seija Rankin, EW.com, "How oxtail soup and Solange Knowles helped Bryan Washington write Memorial," 26 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But like art made in other arenas, prison art exists in relation to economies, power structures governing resources and access, and discourses that legitimate certain works as art and others as craft, material object, historical artifact, or trash. Nicole R. Fleetwood, The New York Review of Books, "Creation in Confinement: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration," 28 Apr. 2020 Backed by a five-piece band, Janelle McDermoth discourses on life, death and the arguable usefulness of art. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "12 Plays and Musicals to Go to in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 20 Feb. 2020 In a 2016 article, Krauze discoursed on populism: The term has different meanings, or at least overtones, in different regions of the world and in different political traditions. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "Against the Populist Passions: A Visit with Enrique Krauze, Part II," 6 Mar. 2020 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

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

19 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Discourse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discourse. Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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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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