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 However, the pandemic has seen at least two drug names jump into public discourse. Roger J. Kreuz, CNN, "The pandemic is changing the English language," 16 Oct. 2020 During these decades, broadcasters were held to a standard of public trusteeship, in which the right to use the airwaves came with a mandate to provide for democratic discourse. New York Times, "The First Amendment in the age of disinformation.," 13 Oct. 2020 Alas, this is the kind of feverish wish-casting that passes for intellectual discourse these days. David Harsanyi, National Review, "A New York Times Columnist Wish-Casts Foreign Intervention into U.S. Elections," 8 Oct. 2020 Megan Thee Stallion turned the Saturday Night Live stage into the perfect platform for political discourse during the show's 46th season premiere hosted by Chris Rock. Rosy Cordero, EW.com, "Megan Thee Stallion calls for the protection of Black women in SNL debut," 4 Oct. 2020 The pandemic has introduced a ton of new vocab words into common discourse. Molly Longman, refinery29.com, "What Is Coronalingus & Should You Be Having It?," 1 Oct. 2020 Sure, elevating diet to be part of your identity is bad for discourse. Washington Post, "Why making your diet part of your identity is bad for your health — and society," 25 Sep. 2020 However, the pandemic has seen at least two drug names jump into public discourse. Roger J. Kreuz, The Conversation, "How COVID-19 is changing the English language," 25 Sep. 2020 But this non-semantic quality makes classical music a difficult topic for discourse. Adam Kirsch, The New Republic, "The Problem With Redemption for Wagner," 11 Sep. 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

21 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Discourse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discourse. Accessed 28 Oct. 2020.

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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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