dis·​cur·​sive | \ di-ˈskər-siv How to pronounce discursive (audio) \

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

Pelosi’s discursive style of speaking does not lend itself to sound bites. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "House Democrats don’t need a leader, they need someone to represent them on TV," 20 Nov. 2018 Questions of luck and social privilege, fate and free will, empathy and solipsism are woven throughout this discursive narrative whose detail-rich sequences lead to psychological insights and unexpected revelations. Tom Nolan, WSJ, "Mysteries: A Case of Mistaken Identity," 11 Oct. 2018 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

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

borrowed from Medieval Latin discursīvus "showing reasoned thought, logical," from discursus, past participle of discurrere "to range over, discuss" (going back to Latin, "to run off in different directions, [of a mind or speaker] branch out, range") + Latin -īvus -ive — more at discourse entry 1

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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

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

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Comments on discursive

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


to take the place or position of

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