discourse


discourse
discourse n Discourse, treatise, disquisition, dissertation, thesis, monograph designate in common a systematic, serious, and often learned consideration of a subject or topic.
Discourse, the widest of these terms, may refer to something written or spoken but, since it fundamentally implies a passing from one link in a chain of reasoning to another, always suggests a careful formulation and usually a plan made in advance of expression
{

read a discourse on the fundamental causes of war before the Foreign Policy Association

}
{

his discourses from the pulpit were always long remembered

}
Treatise implies a written work and suggests a formal, methodical, and more or less extended treatment, usually expository but sometimes argumentative or narrative; it often differs from discourse in not emphasizing reasoning and in referring to a lengthy work
{

Turretin's history ... (a dry, heavy, barren treatise) —John Wesley

}
{

a treatise on insects

}
{

a philosophical treatise

}
Disquisition stresses limitation of a subject and its investigation and discussion in writing; it carries no suggestion of failure or of success but throws its emphasis upon the exploratory nature of the discussion
{

for . . . grave disquisition he was not well qualified— Macaulay

}
{

in his initial disquisition, he tells how he has searched many books— S. R. L.

}
Dissertation presupposes examination and often independent examination of a subject and its discussion at length, usually in writing; it often denotes a treatise dependent on individual research by a candidate for a higher academic degree
{

the sermon is a dissertation, and does violence to nature in the effort to be like a speech— Gladstone

}
{

Lamb's playful "Dissertation upon Roast Pig"

}
{

present a dissertation upon "The Pedant as a stock character in the Elizabethan Drama" for the doctor of philosophy degree

}
Thesis basically denotes a proposition which a person (as a candidate for an academic degree) advances and offers to maintain but is also often used interchangeably with dissertation
{

it is my thesis that people are growing not worse but better

}
{

write a doctoral thesis on Chaucer's minor poems

}
although some restrict it to a dissertation or other work (as one incorporating the results of a series of experiments) intended to maintain or prove a proposition laid down or clearly stated. In practice, however, it may be difficult to tell whether the proposition or its treatment is in the user's mind, so inextricably are the two notions intertwined
{

a thesis maintaining that man's economic condition can be closely correlated with weather records

}
{

Miss Lynch's extremely suggestive thesis is that the transition from Elizabethan-Jacobean to later Caroline comedy is primarily economic— T. S. Eliot

}
Monograph implies a learned treatise on a single topic (as a particular biological species, a clearly restricted literary genre, or an author). It typically refers to a work of this character published in a learned journal or as a pamphlet or small book
{

a monograph on "The Ballade in England"

}
{

a monograph on the catfishes of the Great Lakes region

}
Analogous words: paper, article, *essay: *speech, lecture, talk, sermon
discourse vb Discourse, expatiate, dilate, descant are comparable when meaning to talk or sometimes write more or less formally and at length upon a subject.
Discourse frequently implies the manner or attitude of the lecturer, the monologist, or the preacher; it may suggest detailed or logical and sometimes profound, witty, or brilliant discussion
{

Jonson is a real figure —our imagination plays about him discoursing at the Mermaid, or laying down the law to Drummond of Hawthornden— T. S. Eliot

}
{

we talk in the bosom of our family in a way different from that in which we discourse on state occasions— Lowes

}
Expatiate implies ranging without restraint or wandering at will over a subject; it connotes more copiousness than discourse and often carries a hint of long-windedness
{

we will expatiate freely over the wide and varied field before us— Landor

}
{

the promoter of the raffle . . . was expatiating upon the value of the fabric as material for a summer dress— Hardy

}
{

in another lecture I shall expatiate on the idea— James

}
Dilate implies a discoursing that enlarges the possibilities of a subject (as by dwelling on each small detail)
{

she proceeded to dilate upon the perfections of Miss Nickleby— Dickens

}
{

thosejoys on which Steven-son dilates in that famous little essay in Virginibus Puerisque—Quiller-Couch

}
{

he reverted to his conversation of the night before, and dilated upon the same subject with an easy mastery of his theme— Wylie

}
Descant stresses free comment, but it often also connotes delight or pleasure in this free expression of one's opinions or observations
{

to praise his stable, and descant upon his claret and cookery— Goldsmith

}
{

he descanted to his heart's content on his favorite topic of the [prize] ring— Shaw

}
Analogous words: *discuss, argue, dispute: converse, talk, *speak: lecture, harangue, orate, sermonize (see corresponding nouns at SPEECH)

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Discourse — Dis*course , n. [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,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • discourse — discourse, discourse analysis The study of language , its structure, functions, and patterns in use. For Ferdinand de Saussure , language in use (or parole) could not serve as the object of study for linguistics, since as compared tolangue (the… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • Discourse — Dis*course , v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Discoursed}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Discoursing}.] 1. To exercise reason; to employ the mind in judging and inferring; to reason. [Obs.] Have sense or can discourse. Dryden. [1913 Webster] 2. To express one s self in… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Discourse — Dis*course , v. t. 1. To treat of; to expose or set forth in language. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] The life of William Tyndale . . . is sufficiently and at large discoursed in the book. Foxe. [1913 Webster] 2. To utter or give forth; to speak. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • discourse — [n] dialogue; dissertation address, article, chat, communication, conversation, converse, descant, discussion, disquisition, essay, gabfest*, homily, huddle, lecture, memoir, monograph, monologue, oration, paper, rhetoric, sermon, speaking,… …   New thesaurus

  • discourse — [dis′kôrs΄; ] also, & for v. usually [, dis kôrs′] n. [ME & OFr discours < L discursus, discourse < pp. of discurrere, to run to and fro < dis , from, apart + currere, to run: see CURRENT] 1. communication of ideas, information, etc.,… …   English World dictionary

  • discourse — I noun address, allocution, argument, argumentation, commentary, conference, conlocutio, conloquium, conversation, declamation, dialogue, discussion, disquisition, dissertation, elucidation, exchange of views, excursus, exhortation, exposition,… …   Law dictionary

  • discourse — (n.) late 14c., process of understanding, reasoning, thought, from Fr. discours, from L. discursus a running about, in L.L. conversation, from pp. stem of discurrere run about, from dis apart (see DIS (Cf. dis )) + currere to run (see CURRENT …   Etymology dictionary

  • discourse — is pronounced with stress on the first syllable as a noun, and with stress on the second syllable as a verb …   Modern English usage

  • discourse — ► NOUN 1) written or spoken communication or debate. 2) a formal discussion of a topic in speech or writing. ► VERB 1) speak or write authoritatively about a topic. 2) engage in conversation. ORIGIN Latin discursus running to and fro , from… …   English terms dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.