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[dih-skur-siv] /dɪˈskɜr sɪv/
passing aimlessly from one subject to another; digressive; rambling.
proceeding by reasoning or argument rather than intuition.
Origin of discursive
From the Medieval Latin word discursīvus, dating back to 1590-1600. See discourse, -ive
Related forms
discursively, adverb
discursiveness, noun
nondiscursive, adjective
nondiscursively, adverb
nondiscursiveness, noun
1. wandering, long-winded, prolix. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for discursive
Historical Examples
  • And being alone, he is not concise, but garrulous and discursive.

    The Poetry Of Robert Browning Stopford A. Brooke
  • The old lady began to seem to him a thought too discursive, if not hilarious.

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • He was interesting and inconclusive, and the original papers to which he referred her discursive were at best only suggestive.

    Ann Veronica H. G. Wells
  • The utterance of that name seemed to recall her from the discursive babble.

    The Daltons, Volume I (of II) Charles James Lever
  • One of the men fetched him—a fat, cringing man, with a discursive eye and the odors of many kinds of meats upon him.

    The Trimmed Lamp O. Henry
  • With one such illustration we conclude this discursive fragment.

  • Then, after a brief and discursive debate on the occasion of the adjournment, the House adjourned for the Whitsun recess.

  • Maldonado was double-handed, either syllogistic or discursive.

  • The only sound within was the melancholy chirping of a discursive frog.

    Menotah Ernest G. Henham
  • Fox-hunting is not the theme, but the conversation is loud, animated, and discursive.

    Seeing and Hearing George W. E. Russell
British Dictionary definitions for discursive


passing from one topic to another, usually in an unmethodical way; digressive
(philosophy) of or relating to knowledge obtained by reason and argument rather than intuition Compare dianoetic
Derived Forms
discursively, adverb
discursiveness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Medieval Latin discursīvus, from Late Latin discursusdiscourse
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for discursive

1590s, from Middle French discursif, from Medieval Latin discursivus, from Latin discursus "a running about" (see discourse). Related: Discursively.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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