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 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 This nexus of unexamined power simultaneously gathers up Black women in the grasp of disciplinary impulses while also depriving them of the political and discursive tools to hold anyone accountable. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, The New Republic, "Naming the Threat," 2 Jan. 2020 In cases like this, the perpetrator is a dense magnet, intentionally or incidentally becoming the center of a grand discursive field. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "The Irrepressibly Political Survivorship of Chanel Miller," 11 Oct. 2019 And ultimately, Williams’s race refusal is only a story, amounting to nothing more than a discursive rebellion. Emily Bernard, Harper's magazine, "Autobiography of an Ex-Black Man," 25 Nov. 2019 In the same discursive vein, Biden’s wistful recollection of working alongside segregationists James Eastland and Herman Talmadge sent up clear alarms. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, The New Republic, "The Destructive Politics of White Amnesia," 6 Aug. 2019 Her discursive style is sometimes whimsical, but mostly distracting. Jack Dickey, New York Times, "3 Books to Help You Understand Millennials and Beyond," 14 Feb. 2018 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

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

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Discursive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discursive. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for discursive


How to pronounce discursive (audio)

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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