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[dis-er-tey-shuh n] /ˌdɪs ərˈteɪ ʃən/
a written essay, treatise, or thesis, especially one written by a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
any formal discourse in speech or writing.
1605-15; < Latin dissertātiōn- (stem of dissertātiō), equivalent to dissertāt(us) (past participle of dissertāre; dissert- (see dissert) + -ātus -ate1) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
dissertational, adjective
dissertationist, noun
Can be confused
dissertation, thesis. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for dissertations
  • There were dissertations on the bookshelves from his former graduate students.
  • She found herself skipping his military dissertations, which were still as long and written in as handsome a hand as ever.
  • Walk into the office of any editor at a university press and you will see dissertations stacked in piles, dozens of them.
  • There's a reason that starve the beast has no curves, formulas or doctoral dissertations to clothe its nakedness.
  • Graduate theses, student festivals and dissertations are all included in this collection.
  • My last column centered on the new difficulties that graduate students face in turning their dissertations into books.
  • Many university libraries routinely add dissertations to their electronic holdings.
  • Intimidated by the great distance from their goal, many scholars break down and never complete their dissertations.
  • Doctoral candidates have completed the coursework and are now working on dissertations.
  • Pushing for faster completion for some disciplines is a sure recipe for lower-quality dissertations.
British Dictionary definitions for dissertations


a written thesis, often based on original research, usually required for a higher degree
a formal discourse
Derived Forms
dissertational, adjective
dissertationist, noun
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 dissertations



1610s, "discussion, debate," from Latin dissertationem (nominative dissertatio) "discourse," noun of action from past participle stem of dissertare "debate, argue, examine, harangue," frequentative of disserere "discuss, examine," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + serere "to arrange words" (see series). Sense of "formal, written treatise" is 1650s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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