Definition of course noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

  1. 1  [countable] course (in/on something) a series of lessons or lectures on a particular subject a French/chemistry, etc. course to take/do a course in art and design to go on a management training course The college runs specialist language courses. CollocationsEducationLearning acquire/​get/​lack (an) education/​training/(British English) (some) qualifications receive/​provide somebody with training/​tuition develop/​design/​plan a curriculum/(especially British English) course/(North American English) program/​syllabus give/​go to/​attend a class/​lesson/​lecture/​seminar hold/​run/​conduct a class/​seminar/​workshop sign up for/​take a course/​classes/​lessonsSchool go to/​start preschool/​kindergarten/​nursery school be in the first, second, etc. (North American English) grade/(especially British English) year (at school) study/​take/​drop history/​chemistry/​German, etc. (British English) leave/​finish/​drop out of/ (North American English) quit school (North American English) graduate high school/​collegeProblems at school be the victim/​target of bullying (British English) play truant from/ (both British English, informal) bunk off/​skive off school (= not go to school when you should) (both especially North American English) skip/​cut class/​school (British English) cheat in/(North American English) cheat on an exam/​a test get/​be given a detention (for doing something) be expelled from/​be suspended from schoolWork and exams do your homework/(British English) revision/​a project on something work on/​write/​do/​submit an essay/​a dissertation/​a thesis/​an assignment/(North American English) a paper finish/​complete your dissertation/​thesis/​studies/​coursework hand in/ (North American English) turn in your homework/​essay/​assignment/​paper study/​prepare/ (British English) revise/ (North American English) review/ (North American English, informal) cram for a test/​an exam take/ (both British English) do/​sit a test/​an exam (especially British English) mark/ (especially North American English) grade homework/​a test (British English) do well in/ (North American English) do well on/ (informal, especially North American English) ace a test/​an exam pass/​fail/ (informal, especially North American English) flunk a test/​an exam/​a class/​a course/​a subjectUniversity apply to/​get into/​go to/​start college/(British English) university leave/​graduate from law school/​college/(British English) university (with a degree in computer science) study for/​take/ (British English) do/​complete a law degree/​a degree in physics (both North American English) major/​minor in biology/​philosophy earn/​receive/​be awarded/​get/​have/​hold a master’s degree/​a bachelor’s degree/​a PhD in economics see also correspondence course, crash, foundation course, induction course, refresher course, sandwich course See related entries: Subjects and courses, Study routes
  2. 2  [countable] (especially British English) a period of study at a college or university that leads to an exam or a qualification a degree course a two-year postgraduate course leading to a master’s degree British/​Americancourse / program In British English course is used for a series of lessons or lectures on a particular subject:a physics course a course of ten lectures. In North American English you would say:a physics course/​program a program of ten lectures. In North American English a course is usually an individual unit that forms part of a longer period of study:I have to take a physics course/​class. This is called a module in Britain, especially in a college or university. In British English course can also mean a period of study at a college or university:a two-year college course. In North American English you would say:a two-year college program. compare programme Wordfindercourse, distance learning, education, exam, further education, graduate, higher education, qualification, study, tertiary Wordfinderapprentice, certificate, coaching, college, course, intern, probation, qualify, training, work experience See related entries: University life, Study routes
  3. direction
  4. 3[uncountable, countable, usually singular] a direction or route followed by a ship or an aircraft The plane was on/off course(= going/not going in the right direction). He radioed the pilot to change course. They set a course for the islands.
  5. 4[countable, usually singular] the general direction in which somebody’s ideas or actions are moving The president appears likely to change course on some key issues. Politicians are often obliged to steer a course between incompatible interests.
  6. action
  7. 5(also course of action) [countable] a way of acting in or dealing with a particular situation There are various courses open to us. What course of action would you recommend? The wisest course would be to say nothing.
  8. development
  9. 6[singular] course of something the way something develops or should develop an event that changed the course of history The unexpected course of events aroused considerable alarm.
  10. part of meal
  11. 7[countable] any of the separate parts of a meal a four-course dinner The main course was roast duck. Wordfinderà la carte, course, cuisine, menu, order, reservation, restaurant, service charge, speciality, waiter CollocationsRestaurantsEating out eat (lunch/​dinner)/dine/​meet at/​in a restaurant go (out)/take somebody (out) for lunch/​dinner/​a meal have a meal with somebody make/​have a reservation (in/​under the name of Yamada) reserve/ (especially British English) book a table for six ask for/​request a table for two/​a table by the windowIn the restaurant wait to be seated show somebody to their table sit in the corner/​by the window/​at the bar/​at the counter hand somebody/​give somebody the menu/​wine list open/​read/​study/​peruse the menu the restaurant has a three-course set menu/​a children’s menu/​an extensive wine list taste/​sample/​try the wine the waiter takes your order order/​choose/​have the soup of the day/​one of the specials/​the house (British English) speciality/(especially North American English) specialty serve/​finish the first course/​the starter/​the main course/​dessert/​coffee complain about the food/​the service/​your meal enjoy your mealPaying pay/​ask for (especially British English) the bill/(North American English) the check pay for/​treat somebody to dinner/​lunch/​the meal service is (not) included give somebody/​leave (somebody) a tip See related entries: Dining out
  12. for golf
  13. 8[countable] = golf course He set a new course record. See related entries: Golf
  14. for races
  15. 9  [countable] an area of land or water where races are held She was overtaken on the last stretch of the course. see also assault course, racecourse
  16. of river
  17. 10[countable, usually singular] the direction a river moves in The path follows the course of the river. Wordfinderbend, course, current, dam, downstream, estuary, river, source, tributary, waterfall See related entries: Rivers and lakes
  18. medical treatment
  19. 11[countable] course (of something) a series of medical treatments, pills, etc. to prescribe a course of antibiotics When taking antibiotics it is important to finish the course.
  20. in wall
  21. 12[countable] a continuous layer of bricks, stone, etc. in a wall A new damp-proof course could cost £1 000 or more.
  22. Word OriginMiddle English: from Old French cours, from Latin cursus, from curs- ‘run’, from the verb currere.Extra examples He took a crash course in Italian. Her career followed a similar course to her sister’s. If you are prescribed antibiotics, it’s important to finish the course. In the course of time, I began to understand. In the normal course of events, you should get a reply by Monday. It took him five years to complete the course. It was the best course of action to take in the circumstances. It was the only course open to him. It’s best to let things follow their natural course. Only ten yachts completed the course. Prices resumed their upward course. Psychology is offered as an elective course. She has completed a course in first aid. She shrewdly steered a middle course between the two factions. She withdrew from the course because of illness. She’s been put on a course of injections. Students take required courses in music theory and performance. Taking action without knowing all the facts would not be a prudent course. The boat altered course during the storm. The boat was blown off course. The course consists of both lectures and practical workshops. The course runs from 10–15 May. The course runs from January till March. The dollar fell sharply for two days, and then reversed course. The plane resumed its original course. The school runs courses all year round. The two planes were on a collision course. This was an event that changed the course of history. War has determined the course of much of human history. We could do nothing but let the disease run its course. We had chicken for our main course. We have designed the course for students at all levels of ability. We set course for Malta. We set course for Vancouver Island. We’re a long way off course. We’re on course for our destination. When the dog responded so badly to the treatment, we decided to let nature take its course. a course in applied linguistics a course in art history a course of antibiotics a course on the development of capitalism a joint honours course in French and Russian during the course of the war the only university in the UK to offer courses in computer games technology By far the best course is to use your car less. How much would you pay for a course of driving lessons? I have been plotting your course on the map. I’ve signed up for an evening course on media techniques. If re-elected, the government would pursue the same course. It is time to chart a new course in defence policy. It was decided that the best course of action was for him to be asked to resign. It was the only course of action left open to them It’s a four-year course. Once she had decided on a course of action it was impossible to dissuade her. Over 50 students have enrolled on the course. Registration for courses begins tomorrow. She had taught on a range of undergraduate courses. She’s taking a course in Art and Design. The course is extremely intensive. The course leads to a master’s degree. The president was urged to change course before it was too late. The property group defied the usual course of asking shareholders for cash. The ship set a course for the Christmas Islands. The submarine changed course. They were obliged to steer a course between the interests of the two groups. We offer several management training courses. We’ll just have to let things take their natural course. What degree course did you choose?Idioms
      be on a collision course (with somebody/something)
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    1. 1to be in a situation which is almost certain to cause a disagreement or argument I was on a collision course with my boss over the sales figures.
    2. 2to be moving in a direction in which it is likely that you will crash into somebody/something A giant iceberg was on a collision course with the ship.
    (disapproving) to be just what you would expect to happen or expect somebody to do in a particular situation synonym norm Starting early and working long hours is par for the course in this job. (British English) the act of matching people with suitable jobs or tasks This expression refers to the fact that horses race better on a track that suits them. (formal) going through a particular process The new textbook is in course of preparation.
    in/over the course of…
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    (used with expressions for periods of time) during He's seen many changes in the course of his long life. The company faces major challenges over the course of the next few years.
    when enough time has passed synonym eventually It is possible that in the course of time a cure for cancer will be found. at the right time and not before Your request will be dealt with in due course.
    in the ordinary, normal, etc. course of events, things, etc.
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    as things usually happen synonym normally In the normal course of things we would not treat her disappearance as suspicious.
    (as) a matter of course
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    (as) the usual and correct thing to do We always check people's addresses as a matter of course.
    (steer, take, etc.) a middle course, (find, etc.) a/the middle way
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    (to take/find) an acceptable course of action that avoids two extreme positions
    1. 1  (also course) (informal) used to emphasize that what you are saying is true or correct ‘Don't you like my mother?’ ‘Of course I do!’ ‘Will you be there?’ ‘Course I will.’
    2. 2  (also course) (informal) used as a polite way of giving somebody permission to do something ‘Can I come, too?’ ‘Course you can.’ ‘Can I have one of those pens?’ ‘Of course—help yourself.’
    3. 3  (informal) used as a polite way of agreeing with what somebody has just said ‘I did all I could to help.’ ‘Of course,’ he murmured gently.
    4. 4  used to show that what you are saying is not surprising or is generally known or accepted Ben, of course, was the last to arrive. Of course, there are other ways of doing this. More Aboutof course Of course is often used to show that what you are saying is not surprising or is generally known or accepted. For this reason, and because it can be difficult to get the right intonation, you may not sound polite if you use of course or of course not when you answer a request for information or permission. It can be safer to use a different word or phrase. ‘Is this the right room for the English class?’ ‘Yes, it is.’ ‘Of course.’ or‘Of course it is.’ ‘Can I borrow your dictionary?’ ‘Certainly.’ (formal) ‘Sure.’ (informal) ‘Do you mind if I borrow your dictionary?’ ‘Not at all.’ ‘Go ahead.’ (informal). If you say of course/​of course not it may sound as though you think the answer to the question is obvious and that the person should not ask. In the same way, of course should not be used as a reply to a statement of fact or when someone expresses an opinion:‘It’s a lovely day.’ ‘It certainly is.’/‘Yes it is.’ ‘Of course it is.’ ‘I think you’ll enjoy that play.’ ‘I’m sure I will.’/‘Yes, it sounds really good.’ ‘Of course.’ Language BankneverthelessConceding a point and making a counter-argument While the film is undoubtedly too long, it is nevertheless an intriguing piece of cinema. It can be argued that the movie is too long. It is nonetheless an intriguing piece of cinema. The film is undoubtedly too long. Still, it is an intriguing piece of cinema. Of course, huge chunks of the book have been sacrificed in order to make a two-hour movie, but it is nevertheless a successful piece of storytelling. Critics are wrong to argue that the film’s plot is too complicated. Certainly there are a couple of major twists, but audiences will have no difficulty following them. It is true that you cannot make a good movie without a good script, but it is equally true that a talented director can make a good script into an excellent film. It remains to be seen whether these two movies herald a new era of westerns, but there is no doubt that they represent welcome additions to the genre.
    of course not (also course not)
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     used to emphasize the fact that you are saying ‘no’ ‘Are you going?’ ‘Of course not.’ ‘Do you mind?’ ‘No, of course not.’
    on course for something/to do something
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    likely to achieve or do something because you have already started to do it The American economy is on course for higher inflation than Britain by the end of the year. Victory in Saturday’s match will put them on course to qualify for the European championships.
    pervert the course of justice (British English) (North American English obstruct justice)
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    (law) to tell a lie or to do something in order to prevent the police, etc. from finding out the truth about a crime See related entries: Committing crime
    to develop in the usual way and come to the usual end When her tears had run their course, she felt calmer and more in control. With minor ailments the best thing is often to let nature take its course. to continue doing something until it has finished or been completed, even though it is difficult Very few of the trainees have stayed the course.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: course