• concourse •
Pronunciation: kahn-kors • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A large open area at the front or in front of a public building. 2. An assembly of people. 3. The act of coming together.
Notes: We hear this word all the time in airports and train stations, but this word has other meanings and other uses besides the one referring to architecture. Understanding its history helps us remember the other meanings.
In Play: Let's ignore the obvious sense of this word and move on to the second meaning above: "The large concourse of fans outside the stadium was a clear indication of the importance of the game." In its third sense, we may say things like: "The conference was called by those who thought the concourse of ideas might produce a solution to the problem."
Word History: Today's Good Word entered English from Old French concours, inherited from Latin concursus "a running together". This word was the past participle of concurrere "to run together, assemble hurriedly", used as a noun. Concurrere comprises an assimilated form of com "together" + currere "to run", based on the Proto-Indo-European root kers-/kors- "to run". Latin made good use of the PIE word: carrus "wagon" (whence English car and carry), cursus (whence English cursor and course), carpentum "two-wheeled carriage" (whence English carpenter). The PIE word picked up the vowel U when it entered Old Germanic: hurren "to move fast" in Middle High German and hurry in English.