discourse

noun
dis·course | \ ˈdis-ˌkȯrs , dis-ˈ \

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

2 : talk, converse

transitive verb

archaic : to give forth : utter

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

By attempting to engage in some kind of discourse with Kanye West and Chance the Rapper. Jenn M. Jackson, Teen Vogue, "Donald Trump's Policies Hurt Black Americans," 27 Apr. 2018 Even today, when workers are increasingly less able to consume, the economics of employment and prosperity remain deeply entangled in American political discourse with the ideology of over-consumption. David Sessions, The New Republic, "The Meaning of American Factories," 2 Apr. 2018 Almost anything goes in the public discourse of this country. Marcus Hayes, Philly.com, "David Stern offers views on LeBron James, Donald Trump and national anthem protests | Marcus Hayes," 28 June 2018 Yemen’s 2013 National Dialogue Conference was similarly marred by assassinations and acts of violence associated with a heated discourse of takfir. Ian M. Hartshorn And Stacey Philbrick Yadav, Washington Post, "Here’s what happens when diplomats get involved in religious rhetoric," 11 Apr. 2018 Following the public discourse, 50 Cent quickly turned his trolling focus back onto Jim Jones, who was nearly kicked off of a flight over the weekend (July 6). Michael Saponara, Billboard, "50 Cent Flirts With Remy Ma on Instagram, Papoose Immediately Fires Back," 9 July 2018 To confront the administration, members of the media, in a way that is outside the bounds of normal political discourse in this country. Fox News, "Nunes tightens screws in his probe into surveillance abuses," 3 July 2018 While this will not necessarily translate to a change in votes in a future election, the more public discourse focuses on the importance of honesty, the more politicians across the political spectrum will likely be sanctioned for violating it. Jared Mcdonald, Candace Turitto, Vox, "Honesty first: how to make politicians pay for lying," 2 July 2018 A week earlier, on its home field, Sporting KC similarly lacked cohesion in the opening half, but an about-face changed the discourse of the match in the second half. Sam Mcdowell, kansascity, "Montreal pitches shut out, ends Sporting KC's nine-game unbeaten streak," 30 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Lately, I’ve also written a lot about free speech, academic freedom, and norms around discourse on college campuses. Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, "The Lessons of Bygone Free-Speech Fights," 10 Dec. 2015

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.

See More

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, from Medieval Latin & Late Latin discursus; Medieval Latin, argument, from Late Latin, conversation, from Latin, act of running about, from discurrere to run about, from dis- + currere to run — more at car

Verb

see discourse entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about discourse

Statistics for discourse

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for discourse

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for discourse

discourse

noun

English Language Learners Definition of discourse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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)

: to talk about something especially for a long time

discourse

noun
dis·course | \ ˈdis-ˌkȯrs \

Kids Definition of discourse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

2 : a long talk or essay about a subject

discourse

verb
dis·course | \ dis-ˈkȯrs \
discoursed; discoursing

Kids Definition of discourse (Entry 2 of 2)

: to talk especially for a long time

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on discourse

What made you want to look up discourse? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

the setting in which something occurs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!