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discourse Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun extended verbal expression in speech or writing
  2. noun an address of a religious nature (usually delivered during a church service)
    preaching; sermon.
  3. noun an extended communication (often interactive) dealing with some particular topic
    discussion; treatment.
    • the book contains an excellent discussion of modal logic
    • his treatment of the race question is badly biased
  4. verb to consider or examine in speech or writing
    talk about; discuss.
    • The author talks about the different aspects of this question
    • The class discussed Dante's `Inferno'
  5. verb carry on a conversation
  6. verb talk at length and formally about a topic
    hold forth; dissertate.
    • The speaker dissertated about the social politics in 18th century England

Dis*course" noun
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. 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. Obs.
    Difficult, strange, and harsh to the discourses of natural reason. South.
    Sure he that made us with such large discourse, Looking before and after, gave us not That capability and godlike reason To fust in us unused. Shak.
  2. Conversation; talk.
    In their discourses after supper. Shak.
    Filling the head with variety of thoughts, and the mouth with copious discourse. Locke.
  3. The art and manner of speaking and conversing.
    Of excellent breeding, admirable discourse. Shak.
  4. 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. Dealing; transaction. Obs.
    Good Captain Bessus, tell us the discourse Betwixt Tigranes and our king, and how We got the victory. Beau. & Fl.
Dis*course" intransitive verb
imperfect & past participle Discoursed ; present participle & verbal noun Discoursing
  1. To exercise reason; to employ the mind in judging and inferring; to reason. Obs. "Have sense or can discourse." Dryden.
  2. 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.
    Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear. Shak.
  3. To relate something; to tell. Shak.
  4. To treat of something in writing and formally.
Dis*course" transitive verb
  1. To treat of; to expose or set forth in language. Obs.
    The life of William Tyndale . . . is sufficiently and at large discoursed in the book. Foxe.
  2. To utter or give forth; to speak.
    It will discourse mos eloquent music. Shak.
  3. To talk to; to confer with. Obs.
    I have spoken to my brother, who is the patron, to discourse the minister about it. Evelyn.

Webster 1913