cur·​ric·​u·​lum | \ kə-ˈri-kyə-ləm How to pronounce curriculum (audio) \
plural curricula\ kə-​ˈri-​kyə-​lə How to pronounce curriculum (audio) \ also curriculums

Definition of curriculum

1 : the courses offered by an educational institution the high school curriculum
2 : a set of courses constituting an area of specialization the engineering curriculum the biological sciences curriculum the liberal arts curriculum

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The Different Plural Forms of Curriculum

Curriculum is from New Latin (a post-medieval form of Latin used mainly in churches and schools and for scientific coinages), in which language it means “a course of study.” It shares its ultimate root in classical Latin, where it meant “running” or “course” (as in “race course”), with words such as corridor, courier, and currency, all of which come from Latin currere “to run.”

As is the case with many nouns borrowed directly from Latin, there is often some confusion as to the proper way to form its plural. Both curricula and curriculums are considered correct.

This word is frequently seen in conjunction with vitae; a curriculum vitae (Latin for “course of (one’s) life”) is “a short account of one's career and qualifications prepared typically by an applicant for a position” – in other words, a résumé. Curriculum vitae is abbreviated CV, and is pluralized as curricula vitae.

Examples of curriculum in a Sentence

The college has a liberal arts curriculum.
Recent Examples on the Web Knowing this, science teacher Nate Day adapted his curriculum. oregonlive, 3 Sep. 2021 After years of discussions and debate, full-day kindergarten is a step closer to becoming part of the curriculum in Park Ridge-Niles School District 64. Jennifer Johnson,, 13 Aug. 2021 Also last year, the San Francisco school board approved the development of a K-12 curriculum in Black Studies. Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN, 12 Aug. 2021 The curriculum in my own state of Wisconsin exemplifies both weaknesses. Daniel Buck, National Review, 18 July 2021 Local school boards can use existing materials and current faculty members to update the curriculum in schools across the state. Christopher Keating,, 1 July 2021 The Holocaust — the systematic genocide of Jews and other minority groups in Europe by Adolf Hitler’s German government in World War II — remains part of the curriculum in California. Los Angeles Times, 5 June 2021 Morales-Febus said multiple programs have to be implemented at a state level, including adding a gender-perspective curriculum in schools. Cristina Corujo, ABC News, 26 May 2021 Williams, the history professor, is working on a book about the Rainbow Coalition and is helping to develop a school curriculum in Chicago schools about Hampton and the Panthers. NBC News, 31 Mar. 2021

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

1824, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for curriculum

borrowed from New Latin, going back to Latin, "action of running, course of action, race," from currere "to run" + -i- -i- + -culum, suffix of instrument and place (going back to Indo-European *-tlom) — more at current entry 1

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Learn More About curriculum

Time Traveler for curriculum

Time Traveler

The first known use of curriculum was in 1824

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Dictionary Entries Near curriculum



curriculum vitae

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Last Updated

15 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Curriculum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for curriculum



English Language Learners Definition of curriculum

: the courses that are taught by a school, college, etc.


cur·​ric·​u·​lum | \ kə-ˈri-kyə-ləm How to pronounce curriculum (audio) \
plural curricula\ -​lə \ also curriculums

Kids Definition of curriculum

: all the courses of study offered by a school


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