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[sil-uh-buh s] /ˈsɪl ə bəs/
noun, plural syllabuses, syllabi
[sil-uh-bahy] /ˈsɪl əˌbaɪ/ (Show IPA)
an outline or other brief statement of the main points of a discourse, the subjects of a course of lectures, the contents of a curriculum, etc.
  1. a short summary of the legal basis of a court's decision appearing at the beginning of a reported case.
  2. a book containing summaries of the leading cases in a legal field, used especially by students.
(often initial capital letter). Also called Syllabus of Errors. Roman Catholic Church. the list of 80 propositions condemned as erroneous by Pope Pius IX in 1864.
Origin of syllabus
1650-60; < New Latin syllabus, syllabos, probably a misreading (in manuscripts of Cicero) of Greek síttybās, accusative plural of síttyba label for a papyrus roll Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for syllabus
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Besides, it was borrowed from the syllabus of a degraded superstition.

  • A syllabus is highly useful in the hands of students in lecture courses.

    College Teaching Paul Klapper
  • He himself was keeping his mind on the syllabus with considerable difficulty.

    Stanford Stories Charles K. Field
  • A re-perusal of the syllabus had engendered in her mind a doubt whether it was quite.

    A Likely Story William De Morgan
  • What syllabus of intellectual pursuits was simultaneously possible?

    Ulysses James Joyce
  • An effort has been made in this syllabus to meet this difficult situation.

    A Syllabus of Hispanic-American History William Whatley Pierson
British Dictionary definitions for syllabus


noun (pl) -buses, -bi (-ˌbaɪ)
an outline of a course of studies, text, etc
  1. the subjects studied for a particular course
  2. a document which lists these subjects and states how the course will be assessed
Word Origin
C17: from Late Latin, erroneously from Latin sittybus parchment strip giving title and author, from Greek sittuba


noun (RC Church)
Also called Syllabus of Errors. a list of 80 doctrinal theses condemned as erroneous by Pius IX in 1864
a list of 65 Modernist propositions condemned as erroneous by Pius X in 1907
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 syllabus

1650s, "table of contents of a series of lectures, etc.," from Late Latin syllabus "list," a misreading of Greek sittybos (plural of sittyba "parchment label, table of contents," of unknown origin) in a 1470s edition of Cicero's "Ad Atticum" iv.5 and 8. The proper plural would be syllabi.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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