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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).
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 discourses
  • Your proposal must show your awareness of those multiple discourses and show the place your research will occupy within them.
  • Both are radically historicized, which in our time often means: reduced to an expression of the reigning discourses.
  • It is the history of colonialism, domination and power discourses playing out in the virtual realm.
  • What is notably missing from the book are lengthy discourses about science communication.
  • No theory of suicide, no philosophical discourses on the subject are quite so revelatory as these words.
  • No silver-tongued preacher, she does not go in for philosophical discourses.
  • Elaborate economic discourses have ensued over the years, arguing that a free lunch is a logical impossibility.
  • He never ceased to exhort those who were with him by his inflamed discourses, and the absent by his letters.
  • In one point only they agreed, which was, in all their discourses on morality never to mention the word goodness.
  • Here she communes with nature, and discourses of loveliness and beauty.
British Dictionary definitions for discourses


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 discourses



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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