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 For Macron, who appears to be wheeling right ahead of presidential elections next year, the challenge is broader and discursive. Washington Post, "France and the spectral menace of ‘Islamo-leftism’," 22 Feb. 2021 The novel’s obsession with perception is part of why so many people find reading Proust to be profound: the philosophical interrogation of time, the discursive meditations on art, the musicality of its structure. Oliver Munday, The Atlantic, "Proust Made My Rote Pandemic Existence Unfamiliar Again," 1 Nov. 2020 In his ragged clothes, with his toes bursting out of his boots, Brown intones lengthy, discursive prayers and offers obtuse interpretations of Scripture that leave his men befuddled. William Nash, Smithsonian Magazine, "‘The Good Lord Bird’ Paints a Different Portrait of Abolitionist John Brown," 5 Oct. 2020 This debate also has roots in popular culture, where white riots in film are often glorified, while black riots are criticized, further exposing the discursive discrepancy between the value of material and the value of black lives. Samantha N. Sheppard, The Atlantic, "The Films That Understand Why People Riot," 9 June 2020 In their discursive world, good white ladies are not supposed to scream that Black lives matter or point out the bigotry inherent in a system of law enforcement that started with slave patrols. Linda Tirado, The New Republic, "Police Blinded Me in One Eye. I Can Still See Why My Country’s on Fire.," 4 June 2020 This discursive shift is slowly allowing Muslim groups to nurture solidarities with other marginalised groups facing similar threats and insecurities. Sharik Laliwala, Quartz India, "Facing bias, India’s Muslims are rallying behind its secular constitution, not radical Islam," 20 Feb. 2020 But composing a long discursive narrative, structured in a particular way to advance the story, was, at least for now, completely beyond GPT-2’s predictive capacity. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "The New Yorker," 25 May 2018 In this long, discursive piece, which covers a number of topics, from jazz to orgasms and the threat of atomic destruction, Mailer argues that the only way for a thinking white man to be is black. Hilton Als, The New Yorker, "Can Louis C.K. Spin His Troubles Into Art?," 3 Feb. 2020

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of discursive was in 1595

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Statistics for discursive

Last Updated

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Discursive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discursive. Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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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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