ex·​cur·​sus ik-ˈskər-səs How to pronounce excursus (audio)
plural excursuses also excursus ik-ˈskər-səs How to pronounce excursus (audio) -ˌsüs How to pronounce excursus (audio)
: an appendix or digression that contains further exposition of some point or topic

Examples of excursus in a Sentence

this biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine contains an interesting excursus on the status of women in the Middle Ages
Recent Examples on the Web Stylistically, some of the stories occasionally slip into excursus, a tell-don’t-show technique that is handy for unpacking scientific details or philosophical musings but risks sounding like a proof or a succession of lemmas. Sheon Han, The New Republic, 23 Feb. 2021 There’s a detailed excursus into the California gubernatorial race of 1934, which Upton Sinclair lost, running on a poverty-fighting platform. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 13 Nov. 2020 His process involves a series of sketches, long textual excursuses and model-making with his team. Nikil Saval, New York Times, 2 Mar. 2020 There are long critical essays, short book reviews, reportage with a literary inflection, histories, missives, diary entries, aphorisms, parables, advice, dreams, a test, fictional excursus and, yes, lists. Zachary Fine, WSJ, 30 Aug. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'excursus.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin, digression, from excurrere

First Known Use

1803, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of excursus was in 1803

Dictionary Entries Near excursus

Cite this Entry

“Excursus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/excursus. Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

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