Word of the Day

Wednesday, January 17, 2001

excursus

\ik-SKUR-sus\ , noun;
1.
A dissertation that is appended to a work and that contains a more extended exposition of some important point or topic.
2.
A digression.
Quotes:
And the eels not only have a role in the narrator's story . . . but receive a 12-page excursus on their genesis and (as it were) life style.
-- William H. Pritchard, "The Body in the River Leem", New York Times, March 25, 1984
Sometimes, however, Mr. Honan's historical digressions wander far away from Jane Austen's concerns. An excursus on George III's insanity has precious little to do with "Pride and Prejudice," the subject nominally under discussion.
-- Peter Conrad, "Beside Her Joyce Seems Innocent as Grass'", New York Times, February 28, 1988
Perhaps the most important objection to Mr. Hughes's method is that he views structural changes in both the Western and the Communist world systems chiefly through the filter of his rebels; sometimes I would have preferred an excursus on economic issues to one on intellectual history.
-- Peter Schneider, "A New Breed at the Barricades", New York Times, January 8, 1989
Somewhat sprightlier than the long chapter on Stolypin is his 80-page historical excursus about Nicholas II, the last of Russia's hereditary autocrats.
-- Irving Howe, "The Great War and Russian Memory", New York Times, July 2, 1989
Origin:
Excursus comes from the past participle of Latin excurrere, "to run out," from ex-, "out" + currere, "to run."
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