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[sil-uh-buh s] /ˈsɪl ə bəs/
noun, plural syllabuses, syllabi
[sil-uh-bahy] /ˈsɪl əˌbaɪ/ (Show IPA)
an outline or other brief statement of the main points of a discourse, the subjects of a course of lectures, the contents of a curriculum, etc.
  1. a short summary of the legal basis of a court's decision appearing at the beginning of a reported case.
  2. a book containing summaries of the leading cases in a legal field, used especially by students.
(often initial capital letter). Also called Syllabus of Errors. Roman Catholic Church. the list of 80 propositions condemned as erroneous by Pope Pius IX in 1864.
Origin of syllabus
1650-60; < New Latin syllabus, syllabos, probably a misreading (in manuscripts of Cicero) of Greek síttybās, accusative plural of síttyba label for a papyrus roll Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for syllabus
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The syllabus is excellent in the attention paid to games, in the commendation of skipping and of dancing.

    Woman and Womanhood C. W. Saleeby
  • Besides, it was borrowed from the syllabus of a degraded superstition.

  • The writer would anticipate the criticism that the list of books specified in the syllabus for reading is incomplete.

    A Syllabus of Hispanic-American History William Whatley Pierson
  • He himself was keeping his mind on the syllabus with considerable difficulty.

    Stanford Stories Charles K. Field
  • The syllabus had not permanently fixed his attention upon it.

    The History of Freedom John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton
  • He was suspended from his priestly functions, dressed as a layman, and was temerarious enough to criticise the syllabus.

    The Jesuits, 1534-1921 Thomas J. Campbell
British Dictionary definitions for syllabus


noun (pl) -buses, -bi (-ˌbaɪ)
an outline of a course of studies, text, etc
  1. the subjects studied for a particular course
  2. a document which lists these subjects and states how the course will be assessed
Word Origin
C17: from Late Latin, erroneously from Latin sittybus parchment strip giving title and author, from Greek sittuba


noun (RC Church)
Also called Syllabus of Errors. a list of 80 doctrinal theses condemned as erroneous by Pius IX in 1864
a list of 65 Modernist propositions condemned as erroneous by Pius X in 1907
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 syllabus

1650s, "table of contents of a series of lectures, etc.," from Late Latin syllabus "list," a misreading of Greek sittybos (plural of sittyba "parchment label, table of contents," of unknown origin) in a 1470s edition of Cicero's "Ad Atticum" iv.5 and 8. The proper plural would be syllabi.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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