1. communication of thought by words; talk; conversation: earnest and intelligent discourse.
  2. a formal discussion of a subject in speech or writing, as a dissertation, treatise, sermon, etc.
  3. Linguistics. any unit of connected speech or writing longer than a sentence.

verb (used without object), dis·coursed, dis·cours·ing.

  1. to communicate thoughts orally; talk; converse.
  2. to treat of a subject formally in speech or writing.

verb (used with object), dis·coursed, dis·cours·ing.

  1. to utter or give forth (musical sounds).

noun (ˈdɪskɔːs, dɪsˈkɔːs)

  1. verbal communication; talk; conversation
  2. a formal treatment of a subject in speech or writing, such as a sermon or dissertation
  3. a unit of text used by linguists for the analysis of linguistic phenomena that range over more than one sentence
  4. archaic the ability to reason or the reasoning process

verb (dɪsˈkɔːs)

  1. (intr; often foll by on or upon) to speak or write (about) formally and extensively
  2. (intr) to hold a discussion
  3. (tr) archaic to give forth (music)

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.

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