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Adjectival use of course that diverged in spelling in the 18th century. The sense developed from '(following) the usual course' (cf. of course) to 'ordinary, common' to 'lacking refinement', with 'not fine, granular' arising from its application to cloth. Compare the development of mean.



coarse (comparative coarser, superlative coarsest)

  1. With a rough texture; not smooth.
    • 1726 October 28, [Jonathan Swift], “Of the Inhabitants of Lilliput; []”, in Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. [] [Gulliver’s Travels], volume I, London: [] Benj[amin] Motte, [], →OCLC, part I (A Voyage to Lilliput), pages 107–108:
      Two hundred Sempſtreſſes were employed to make me Shirts, and Linen for Bed and Table, all of the ſtrongeft and coarſeſt kind they could get; which, however, they were forced to quilt together in ſeveral Folds, for the thickeſt was ſome degrees finer than Lawn.
  2. Composed of large particles.
    coarse sand
  3. Lacking refinement, taste or delicacy.
    coarse manners
    coarse language
    • 1791, John Walker, A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary [] [1], London: Sold by G. G. J. and J. Robinſon, Paternoſter Row; and T. Cadell, in the Strand, →OCLC, page 211:
      ☞ This word [earth] is liable to a coarſe vulgar pronunciation, as if written Urth; []
  4. (archaic, of a metal) Unrefined.
  5. Of inferior quality.
    (Can we add an example for this sense?)



  • (of inferior quality): fine

Derived terms[edit]



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