Definition of discourse in English:



  • 1Written or spoken communication or debate.

    [mass noun] ‘the language of political discourse’
    [count noun] ‘an imagined discourse between two people’
    • ‘However, we are not optimistic given the trends in current political discourse surrounding debate of issues such as the foreshore.’
    • ‘Thus, we can identify strains of our current discourse in debates held nearly 40 years ago.’
    • ‘Each transformation adds to the political power of the discourse.’
    • ‘I hope I can help change the political discourse in this country.’
    • ‘I think this is about the quality of our political discourse.’
    • ‘These are issues that should be at the forefront of political debate and election discourse.’
    • ‘How, then, can we force a change in the media systems that dominate the discourse and misinform the debate?’
    • ‘The idea has also entered the public discourse, influencing debates on school curriculums and standardised tests.’
    • ‘They are an expression of ideas, a discussion, a debate, a discourse.’
    • ‘Ideas about class and class conflict have disappeared from political discourses.’
    • ‘The fact that violence was mostly reproduced within interface communities meant that political discourses, in such places, were tied to the realities of vulnerability and threat.’
    • ‘In this, her work is a model for scholars attempting to understand the political discourse and social imaginaries of subaltern communities of all kinds.’
    • ‘So what are the fruits of our actions in the political discourse?’
    • ‘He who controls the discourse wins the argument.’
    • ‘Someone has finally written a book that lifts the discourse of our current political debate to a higher level.’
    • ‘It is something that is quite literally built, brick by brick, and at each level of society you understand what the parameters are of political discourse and political debate.’
    • ‘Fear, whether it is quelled or stimulated, provides the capacity to both control and manipulate a variety of social and political discourses.’
    • ‘The preservation discourse speaks to the practice of individual responsibility for maintaining health.’
    • ‘In speaking the academic discourse of philosophy, the debaters have lost their discursive, if not their literal, accents.’
    • ‘One can imagine the consequences to the political discourse.’
    discussion, conversation, talk, dialogue, communication, conference, debate, consultation, verbal exchange
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    1. 1.1[count noun]A formal discussion of a topic in speech or writing.
      ‘a discourse on critical theory’
      • ‘It is one of the few discourses to address the topic of lay ethics.’
      • ‘Both female and male writers drew on these discourses in their writing.’
      • ‘My son will deliver a discourse on a Torah topic, and each of his grandfathers will say a few words.’
      • ‘Imperialism is a term often used as a rhetorical flourish and definitions vary especially in academic discourse and social discussion tracts.’
      • ‘The author thoughtfully weaves patches of personal history with discourses on topics so fundamental to her growth as a young woman coming of age in Alabama.’
      • ‘They argued, discussed, rendered discourses and critiqued each other's theories.’
      • ‘Woven of prior discourses, the text is ultimately related to all of culture.’
      • ‘Further, the economy of words and gestures in ritual speech serves to form and catechize in ways that formal discourse about this practice cannot.’
      • ‘In so doing, she literally connected discourses on Victorian manners and Mormon theology.’
      • ‘Both men and women are implicated in formal as well as informal gift-giving, although the most formal presentations and discourses are executed by men.’
      • ‘He prefaced his speech with a discourse on the need of friendship.’
      • ‘A dissertation is a detailed discourse or treatise on a particular topic that provides a new perspective to a phenomenon.’
      • ‘Sure enough, the reader of this collection finds a range of perspectives on and approaches to early modern texts and discourses, from highly theorized essays to more straightforward historical explorations of gender in the period.’
      • ‘We have noted above that several Gnostic writings are post-resurrection discourses or dialogues.’
      • ‘Just a short discourse and then this topic is closed on my blog henceforth.’
      • ‘Whenever she brought their conversation to a subject he found interesting, he gave longwinded discourses verging on speeches.’
      • ‘However, it's an interesting discourse on an unusual writing career.’
      • ‘It may not lead to long discussions and discourses.’
      • ‘The problem stems from critics' readiness to appeal to literature as a form of critique of legal discourse without enquiring into the discourses informing the writing, reading, and interpretation of literature itself.’
      • ‘Valuable tips to raise themselves from mere seekers to achievers were provided by way of formal discourses, informal lectures, and games.’
      essay, treatise, dissertation, paper, study, critique, monograph, disquisition, tract
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    2. 1.2Linguistics A connected series of utterances; a text or conversation.
      • ‘As a result, the work of literature is itself a concrete utterance within those discourses, existing on the same discursive plane as a contribution to their verbal-ideological life.’
      • ‘Although some readers would have liked to see additional chapters on discourse and pragmatics, I have kept the same choice of topics.’
      • ‘Second, resolving this underspecification requires reasoning about how the presupposition is rhetorically connected to the discourse context.’
      • ‘The investigation focused on how non-native speakers use intonation to signal meaning in the structure of their discourse.’
      • ‘All three examples are from the very first sentences of their essays; possessives are being used to introduce discourse referents.’
      conversation, talk, communication, interchange, argument
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  • 1 Speak or write authoritatively about a topic.

    ‘she could discourse at great length on the history of Europe’
    • ‘He would never miss an opportunity, in the prologues or epilogues to these programs, to discourse upon the importance of being frightened, of having your spine tingled.’
    • ‘I only discoursed on that pleasing subject because news is scarce.’
    • ‘But whenever he has spoken about the guru, he has discoursed for not less than one-and-a-half hours.’
    • ‘There was scarcely a subject on which he could not discourse with humor and invention, from the depressive mood of the country to its other civic troubles.’
    • ‘He's been doing the rounds of the newspapers portraying himself as the victim of press intrusion into his private life, and discoursing on identity and being proud to be English.’
    • ‘A quilter, she discourses regularly on the simple joys of stitching cloth, of creating harmony from scraps.’
    • ‘While at the museum, he contributed essays to numerous books and kept up a prodigious lecture schedule, discoursing on the past and present of fashion at museums and universities around the country.’
    • ‘He spent half an hour waving his hands over my knees while discoursing on his life as a school-master and politics.’
    • ‘He read the daily paper and after digesting would discourse on current events.’
    • ‘He discoursed about trees, from the cedars of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows from the wall.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, fellow students were discoursing on what was to me the arcane subject of process theology.’
    • ‘The Party members, after all, aren't shy about discoursing on moral standards or reluctant to translate the most basic of those standards into law.’
    • ‘It will be particularly salutary because it allows us to discourse again about self-discipline, self-mastery, and maybe even the exercise of the will.’
    • ‘Choose a field of research, and Aristotle laboured in it; pick an area of human endeavour, and Aristotle discoursed upon it.’
    • ‘Romeo stumbled back and forth across the stage, spending most of the scene discoursing to the audience about Juliet's beauty while hardly looking at her.’
    • ‘So the clippers frequently fall silent while he discourses on the usual topics beloved of barbers: holidays, football, etc.’
    • ‘It also allowed him to discourse on an important phenomenon that was gaining prominence at the time: the conflict between piety and wealth.’
    • ‘His success with women is not to be wondered at: whatever might be their interests, he had the range of information and experience that gave him the ability to discourse knowledgeably on almost any topic under the sun.’
    • ‘They speak directly to the emotions, and they discourse about the things in life that really matter.’
    • ‘While the two of us waited for the meeting to start, I sat rapt as Duncan discoursed on the origins of class society.’
    hold forth, expatiate, pontificate
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    1. 1.1Engage in conversation.
      ‘he spent an hour discoursing with his supporters’
      • ‘Time and time again, I will find myself discoursing with random people, all over the city, lately even in different states.’
      • ‘Show me then what I shall accomplish by discoursing with you.’
      • ‘After an anxious search of three days they found Him in the Temple, discoursing with the learned doctors of the law.’
      • ‘He was in a pensive mood on this night, even when collectively discoursing with the trio.’
      • ‘One senses that he misses being in a classroom discoursing with students.’
      converse, talk, speak, have a discussion, discuss matters, debate, confer, consult, parley, chat
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Late Middle English (denoting the process of reasoning): from Old French discours, from Latin discursus running to and fro (in medieval Latin argument), from the verb discurrere, from dis- away + currere to run; the verb influenced by French discourir.