Printable Version
Pronunciation: iks-kêr-zhên Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A brief trip, a short journey, a pleasurable outing to a particular place, a military sally or sortie. 2. A digression, deviation from the main topic, direct route, or course of action.

Notes: This word is widely used in both its literal and metaphorical (No. 2 above) senses. Excursion is the action noun for the seldom used verb excurse with its adjective, excursive. An excursionist is someone taking or leading excursions.

In Play: In its literal sense, we may hear excursion in expressions like this: "In Rhode Island, all cities are but a short excursion from all others." The figurative sense is apt to emerge in sentences like this: "Horace's talk was more excursions into various unrelated aspects of economics than a focused journey into his topic."

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from French and never returned. French inherited it from Latin excursio(n) "a running forth, excursion, expedition", the action noun from excurrere "to run out, hasten forth", which Latin put together from ex "(out) from" + currere "to run". Latin inherited ex from PIE eghs "out, from", source also of Russian and Serbian iz "out of, out from", Greek ex "from", and Lithuanian iš "from". Currere was based on PIE kers-/kors- "to run". We see its remains in Latin cursus "run, flow" and currus "cart", and English horse. The English adjective current was taken from the present participle of currere, curren(t)s "running". The noun current came from French courant; in Old English it was spelled curraunt. (Now let's show our gratitude to M. W. Gringa for sharing the excursion from "run" to "short journey" of today's traveling Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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