dis·​cur·​sive | \dis-ˈkər-siv \

Definition of discursive 

1a : moving from topic to topic without order : rambling gave a discursive lecture discursive prose

b : proceeding coherently from topic to topic

2 philosophy : marked by a method of resolving complex expressions into simpler or more basic ones : marked by analytical reasoning

3 : of or relating to discourse discursive practices

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Other Words from discursive

discursively adverb
discursiveness noun

Did You Know?

The Latin verb discurrere meant "to run about", and from this word we get our word discursive, which often means rambling about over a wide range of topics. A discursive writing style generally isn't encouraged by writing teachers. But some of the great 19th-century writers, such as Charles Lamb and Thomas de Quincey, show that the discursive essay, especially when gracefully written and somewhat personal in tone, can be a pleasure to read. And the man often called the inventor of the essay, the great Michel de Montaigne, might touch on dozens of different topics in the course of a long discursive essay.

Examples of discursive in a Sentence

the speaker's discursive style made it difficult to understand his point

Recent Examples on the Web

The pacing is slow and discursive, as are Lynch’s films, but text doesn’t function as a film (like The Art Life) does, with its inclusion of visuals, sound, the molten quality of facial expressions. Charlotte Shane, The New Republic, "Living in David Lynch’s Art Life," 26 June 2018 This brilliant but digressive opera was treated to a brilliant but discursive production directed by Daniel Fish. David Patrick Stearns, Philly.com, "Leonard Bernstein's oddball opera 'A Quiet Place' improves in Curtis staging, but it ain't there yet," 8 Mar. 2018 Keith, not Hadji—has been a popular and discursive Mets color commentator on SNY ever since Elaine Kaufman scolded him. Steve Rushin, SI.com, "Keith Hernandez, Lou Piniella Focus on Humanity, Not Glory, in New Memoirs," 16 May 2018 Her trilogy is made up of virtuosic, morally discursive works that eschew narrative in favour of what, initially, appears to be a stream of introspection from a Greek chorus of characters. The Economist, "Rachel Cusk experiments with new ways to tell stories," 10 May 2018 At their best, letters are personal, discursive, emotive. Robbie Shell, WSJ, "Old Letters Offer Clues to a Family Mystery," 22 Apr. 2018 The tenor saxophonist James Brandon Lewis and the drummer Chad Taylor both improvise in a way that runs rampant and discursive, but their music stays firmly centered in their bodies. New York Times, "15 Pop, Rock and Jazz Concerts to Check Out in NYC This Weekend," 5 Apr. 2018 Sections that seem to be dramatic are later revealed to be documentary, while other apparently dramatic scenes are interrupted by discursive sequences. Patrick Friel, Chicago Reader, "Dance / Film / Foreign / Gender Issues / Moviegoing / Old Movies to Watch Now / On Video Five classic films by Latin American women," 17 Apr. 2018 Honestly, the speech could be less free and less discursive. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "Review: In ‘Education,’ a Fictional Protest That Pales Next to Real Ones," 15 Mar. 2018

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

1595, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for discursive

Medieval Latin discursivus, from Latin discursus, past participle of discurrere to run about — more at discourse

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Time Traveler for discursive

The first known use of discursive was in 1595

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English Language Learners Definition of discursive

: talking or writing about many different things in a way that is not highly organized

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a private place of worship

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