late 13c., "onward movement," from Old French cors (12c.) "course; run, running; flow of a river," from Latin cursus "a running race or course," from curs- past participle stem of currere "to run" (from PIE root *kers- "to run").
Most extended senses (meals, etc.) are present in 14c. Academic meaning "planned series of study" is c. 1600 (in French from 14c.). Phrase of course is attested from 1540s; literally "of the ordinary course;" earlier in same sense was bi cours (c. 1300).
16c., from course (n.). Related: Coursed; coursing.
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