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[n. dis-kawrs, -kohrs, dis-kawrs, -kohrs; v. dis-kawrs, -kohrs] /n. ˈdɪs kɔrs, -koʊrs, dɪsˈkɔrs, -ˈkoʊrs; v. dɪsˈkɔrs, -ˈkoʊrs/
communication of thought by words; talk; conversation:
earnest and intelligent discourse.
a formal discussion of a subject in speech or writing, as a dissertation, treatise, sermon, etc.
Linguistics. any unit of connected speech or writing longer than a sentence.
verb (used without object), discoursed, discoursing.
to communicate thoughts orally; talk; converse.
to treat of a subject formally in speech or writing.
verb (used with object), discoursed, discoursing.
to utter or give forth (musical sounds).
Origin of discourse
1325-75; Middle English discours < Medieval Latin discursus (spelling by influence of Middle English cours course), Late Latin: conversation, Latin: a running to and fro, equivalent to discur(rere) to run about (dis- dis-1 + currere to run) + -sus for -tus suffix of v. action
Related forms
discourser, noun
prediscourse, noun
1. discussion, colloquy, dialogue, chat, parley. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for discourse
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I could not follow his discourse well, and was very much fatigued by my days walk.

    Travels Through North America, v. 1-2 Berhard Saxe-Weimar Eisenach
  • Making notes of them for ourselves we discourse of them to others.

  • A very feeling individual application of the subject to the congregation concluded the discourse.

    The Church Index William Pepperell
  • The object of his discourse was a panegyric of himself and a satire on all other conjurors.

    Vivian Grey Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli
  • Meanwhile, with Ninetta, I discourse sweet nothings in my choicest idiom which has grown rather rusty in England.

    Alone Norman Douglas
British Dictionary definitions for discourse


noun (ˈdɪskɔːs; dɪsˈkɔːs)
verbal communication; talk; conversation
a formal treatment of a subject in speech or writing, such as a sermon or dissertation
a unit of text used by linguists for the analysis of linguistic phenomena that range over more than one sentence
(archaic) the ability to reason or the reasoning process
verb (dɪsˈkɔːs)
(intransitive; often foll by on or upon) to speak or write (about) formally and extensively
(intransitive) to hold a discussion
(transitive) (archaic) to give forth (music)
Derived Forms
discourser, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Medieval Latin discursus argument, from Latin: a running to and fro, from discurrere to run different ways, from dis-1 + currere to run
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for discourse

late 14c., "process of understanding, reasoning, thought," from French discours, from Latin discursus "a running about," in Late Latin "conversation," from past participle stem of discurrere "run about," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + currere "to run" (see current (adj.)). Sense of "formal speech or writing" is first recorded 1580s.


1540s, from discourse (n.). Related: Discoursed; discoursing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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