What does discourse mean?

Definitions for discourse
ˈdɪs kɔrs, -koʊrs, dɪsˈkɔrs, -ˈkoʊrs; dɪsˈkɔrs, -ˈkoʊrsdis·course

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word discourse.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. discoursenoun

    extended verbal expression in speech or writing

  2. sermon, discourse, preachingnoun

    an address of a religious nature (usually delivered during a church service)

  3. discussion, treatment, discourseverb

    an extended communication (often interactive) dealing with some particular topic

    "the book contains an excellent discussion of modal logic"; "his treatment of the race question is badly biased"

  4. discourse, talk about, discussverb

    to consider or examine in speech or writing

    "The author talks about the different aspects of this question"; "The class discussed Dante's `Inferno'"

  5. converse, discourseverb

    carry on a conversation

  6. hold forth, discourse, dissertateverb

    talk at length and formally about a topic

    "The speaker dissertated about the social politics in 18th century England"


  1. discoursenoun

    Verbal exchange, conversation.

  2. discoursenoun

    Expression in words, either speech or writing.

  3. discoursenoun

    A formal lengthy exposition of some subject, either spoken or written.

  4. discoursenoun

    Any rational expression, reason.

  5. discoursenoun

    An institutionalized way of thinking, a social boundary defining what can be said about a specific topic (after Michel Foucault).

  6. discourseverb

    To engage in discussion or conversation; to converse.

  7. discourseverb

    To write or speak formally and at length.

  8. discourseverb

    To debate.

  9. Etymology: Either from discours, or a direct alteration of discursus, itself from discurro, from dis- + curro.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. DISCOURSEnoun

    Etymology: discours, Fr. discursus, Latin.

    By reason of that original weakness in the instruments, without which the understanding part is not able in this world by discourse to work, the very conceit of painfulness is a bridle to stay us. Richard Hooker, b. 1. s. 7.

    Sure he that made us with such large discourse,
    Looking before and after, gave us not
    That capability and godlike reason
    To rust in us unus’d. William Shakespeare.

    The third act of the mind is that which connects propositions, and deduceth conclusions from them: and this the schools call discourse; and we shall not miscall it, if we name it reason. Joseph Glanvill, Sceps. c. 13.

    He waxeth wiser than himself, more by an hour’s discourse, than by a day’s meditation. Francis Bacon, Essays.

    In thy discourse, if thou desire to please,
    All such is courteous, useful, new, or witty;
    Usefulness come by labour, wit by ease,
    Courtesy grows in court, news in the city. George Herbert.

    The vanquish’d party with the victors join’d,
    Nor wanted sweet discourse, the banquet of the mind. Dryd.

    Topical and superficial arguments, of which there is store to be found on both sides, filling the head with variety of thoughts, and the mouth with copious discourse, serve only to amuse the understanding and entertain company. John Locke.

    The discourse here is about ideas, which, he says, are real things, and seen in God. John Locke.

    Plutarch, in his discourse upon garrulity, commends the fidelity of the companions of Ulysses. Alexander Pope, Odyssey, Notes.

  2. To Discourseverb

    To treat of.

    Etymology: from the noun.

    Renowned duke, vouchsafe to take the pains
    To go with us into the abbey here,
    And let us there at large discourse all our fortunes. William Shakespeare, Co. Err.

  3. To Discourseverb

    Etymology: from the noun.

    How wert thou handled, being prisoner?
    Discourse, I pr’ythee on this turret’s top. William Shakespeare, Hen. IV.

    Of various things discoursing as he pass’d,
    Anchises hither bends. Dryd.

    That the general maxims we are discoursing of are not known to children, ideots, and a great part of mankind, we have already sufficiently proved. John Locke.

    And yet the pow’rs of her discoursing thoughts,
    From the collection is a diverse thing. Davies.

    Brutes do want that quick discoursing pow’r. Davies.


  1. Discourse

    Discourse is a generalization of the notion of a conversation to any form of communication. Discourse is a major topic in social theory, with work spanning fields such as sociology, anthropology, continental philosophy, and discourse analysis. Following pioneering work by Michel Foucault, these fields view discourse as a system of thought, knowledge, or communication that constructs our experience of the world. Since control of discourse amounts to control of how the world is perceived, social theory often studies discourse as a window into power. Within theoretical linguistics, discourse is understood more narrowly as linguistic information exchange and was one of the major motivations for the framework of dynamic semantics, in which expressions' denotations are equated with their ability to update a discourse context.


  1. discourse

    Discourse is a form of communication or expression which can be written or spoken, formal or informal. It involves a continuous and connected series of thoughts, ideas, beliefs, or conversational exchanges on a particular subject or topic, typically involving multiple perspectives. It forms a fundamental part of social interactions and constitutes the broader intellectual context that frames human thought and understanding.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Discoursenoun

    the power of the mind to reason or infer by running, as it were, from one fact or reason to another, and deriving a conclusion; an exercise or act of this power; reasoning; range of reasoning faculty

  2. Discoursenoun

    conversation; talk

  3. Discoursenoun

    the art and manner of speaking and conversing

  4. Discoursenoun

    consecutive speech, either written or unwritten, on a given line of thought; speech; treatise; dissertation; sermon, etc.; as, the preacher gave us a long discourse on duty

  5. Discoursenoun

    dealing; transaction

  6. Discourseverb

    to exercise reason; to employ the mind in judging and inferring; to reason

  7. Discourseverb

    to express one's self in oral discourse; to expose one's views; to talk in a continuous or formal manner; to hold forth; to speak; to converse

  8. Discourseverb

    to relate something; to tell

  9. Discourseverb

    to treat of something in writing and formally

  10. Discourseverb

    to treat of; to expose or set forth in language

  11. Discourseverb

    to utter or give forth; to speak

  12. Discourseverb

    to talk to; to confer with

  13. Etymology: [L. discursus a running to and fro, discourse, fr. discurrere, discursum, to run to and fro, to discourse; dis- + currere to run: cf. F. discours. See Course.]


  1. Discourse

    Discourse denotes written and spoken communications such as: ⁕In semantics and discourse analysis: A generalization of the concept of conversation within all modalities and contexts. ⁕The totality of codified language used in a given field of intellectual enquiry and of social practice, such as legal discourse, medical discourse, religious discourse, et cetera. ⁕In the work of Michel Foucault, and that of the social theoreticians he inspired: discourse describes “an entity of sequences, of signs, in that they are enouncements ”. An enouncement is not a unit of semiotic signs, but an abstract construct that allows the signs to assign and communicate specific, repeatable relations to, between, and among objects, subjects, and statements. Hence, a discourse is composed of semiotic sequences between and among objects, subjects, and statements. The term discursive formation conceptually describes the regular communications that produce such discourses. As a philosopher, Foucault applied the discursive formation in the analyses of large bodies of knowledge, such as political economy and natural history.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Discourse

    dis-kōrs′, n. speech or language generally: conversation: the reasoning faculty: a treatise: a sermon.—v.i. to talk or converse: to reason: to treat formally.—v.t. to utter or give forth.—n. Discours′er (Shak.).—adj. Discours′ive. [Fr. discours—L. discursusdis, away, currĕre, to run.]

Editors Contribution

  1. discourse

    Discourse is close to debate. Debators try to convice, or overrun, others to their point. Discoursers have a mutual understanding of developing a higher truth that all discoursers can agree to. A discourse involves dialectics. A thesis is tested against its anti.thesis in a hope to arrive at a synthesis.

    Submitted by eugenep.05510 on July 10, 2022  

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'discourse' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #3941

  2. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'discourse' in Nouns Frequency: #1477

How to pronounce discourse?

How to say discourse in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of discourse in Chaldean Numerology is: 7

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of discourse in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

Examples of discourse in a Sentence

  1. Debbie Haskins:

    As a grass roots organization we are committed to keeping our youth, our roadways, and public safe. Whenever a state looks at changing its culture by legalizing a drug, we need to think about the societal costs. VT will hopefully have a spirited discussion in 2015 that we hope will bring science, research and thoughtful discourse to a complicated topic, we hope that VT’ers care enough to have this discussion based on science, rather than emotion or for money.

  2. Nancy Pelosi:

    It was disturbing to see. … He literally ran away from the press when he was asked about his position, republicans can run, but they cannot hide from what happened on Jan. 6, to call that legitimate political discourse —140 law enforcement officers were wounded. Some people died. It was an assault on our Capitol, our Congress and more importantly an assault on our democracy.

  3. Congressman Andy Harris:

    Today's aggression by protesters who disagree with my position on the legalization of recreational marijuana demonstrates the problem with political discourse today, we all must agree to have a civilized debate when disagreement occurs. My parents fled communist Eastern Europe where people with different political opinions were harassed and punished, and it has no place in America.

  4. Francisco Resnicoff:

    The discourse of change is with Macri, macri has done a good job as presenting himself as the future. He took that space away from Scioli.

  5. Bryant McGill:

    Where wise actions are the fruit of life, wise discourse is the pollination.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for discourse

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • حديثArabic
  • разговор, разговарям, държа реч, дискутирам, лекция, доклад, докладвамBulgarian
  • rozprava, řeč, projev, rozmlouvat, přednáška, pojednávatCzech
  • reden, Abhandlung, Diskurs, Gespräch, RedeGerman
  • ομιλία, διάλεξη, διαλέγομαι, συνομιλώ, συνομιλίαGreek
  • discurso, conversaciónSpanish
  • سخنPersian
  • tutkielma, ilmaus, keskustella, ajatustenvaihto, diskurssi, väitellä, keskustelu, käsitellä, järkeilyFinnish
  • conversation, discoursFrench
  • שיחHebrew
  • प्रवचनHindi
  • ceramahIndonesian
  • discorsoItalian
  • 会談, 会話, 論文, デイスクー, 対話Japanese
  • 논설Korean
  • sermoLatin
  • discours, redevoering, gedachtenwisseling, bespreken, verhandeling, rede, discussie, converseren, uiting, spreken, gesprek, conversatie, betoogDutch
  • discurso, discussãoPortuguese
  • discurs, conversațieRomanian
  • рациональность, разумность, разговор, беседа, дискурс, речь, трактат, доклад, лекцияRussian
  • diskursSwedish
  • วาทกรรมThai
  • گفتگوUrdu
  • 演讲Chinese

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"discourse." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 25 Jul 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/discourse>.

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    diverge from the expected
    A aberrate
    B huff
    C abet
    D abrade

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