AskDefine | Define lecture

Dictionary Definition



1 a speech that is open to the public; "he attended a lecture on telecommunications" [syn: public lecture, talk]
2 a lengthy rebuke; "a good lecture was my father's idea of discipline"; "the teacher gave him a talking to" [syn: speech, talking to]
3 teaching by giving a discourse on some subject (typically to a class) [syn: lecturing]


1 deliver a lecture or talk; "She will talk at Rutgers next week"; "Did you ever lecture at Harvard?" [syn: talk]
2 censure severely or angrily; "The mother scolded the child for entering a stranger's car"; "The deputy ragged the Prime Minister"; "The customer dressed down the waiter for bringing cold soup" [syn: call on the carpet, rebuke, rag, trounce, reproof, reprimand, jaw, dress down, call down, scold, chide, berate, bawl out, remonstrate, chew out, chew up, have words, lambaste, lambast]

User Contributed Dictionary



From lectura "action of reading", from lectus (past participle of legere "to read"), from Proto-Indo-European *leg- "gather, collect" (cf. λέγειν legein "to say, tell, speak, declare", originally, in Homer, "to pick out, select, collect, enumerate"; λέξις lexis "speech, diction;" λόγος logos "word, speech, thought, account"; lignum "wood, firewood," lit. “that which is gathered”). To read is to "pick out words".


  1. A spoken lesson or exposition, usually delivered to group.
    During class today the professor delivered an interesting lecture.


a spoken lesson


  1. To teach, by giving a speech on a given topic.
  2. To berate, to scold.


to teach
to berate, to scold

Related terms




fr-noun f

Derived terms

Related terms

Extensive Definition

A lecture is an oral presentation intended to present information or teach people about a particular subject, for example by a university or college teacher. Lectures are used to convey critical information, history, background, theories and equations. A politician's speech, a minister's sermon, or even a businessman's sales presentation may be similar in form to a lecture. Usually the lecturer will stand at the front of the room and recite information relevant to the lecture's content.
Though lectures are much criticized as a pedagogical method, universities have not yet found practical alternative teaching methods for the large majority of their courses. Critics point out that lecturing is mainly a one-way method of communication that does not involve significant audience participation. Therefore, lecturing is often contrasted to active learning. But lectures delivered by talented speakers can be highly stimulating; at the very least, lectures have survived in academia as a quick, cheap and efficient way of introducing large numbers of students to a particular field of study.
Lectures have a significant role outside the classroom, as well. Academic and scientific awards routinely include a lecture as part of the honor, and academic conferences often center around "keynote addresses", i.e., lectures. The public lecture has a long history in the sciences and in social movements. Union halls, for instance, historically have hosted numerous free and public lectures on a wide variety of matters. Similarly, churches, community centers, libraries, museums, and other organizations have hosted lectures in furtherance of their missions or their constituents' interests.


The noun "lecture" dates from 14th century, meaning "action of reading, that which is read," from the Latin lectus, pp. of legere "to read." Its subsequent meaning as "a discourse on a given subject before an audience for purposes of instruction" is from the 16th century. The verb "to lecture" is attested from 1590. The noun "lectern" refers to the reading desk used by lecturers. In British English and several other languages the noun "lecture" must grammatically be the object of the verb "to read."


The practice in the medieval university was for the instructor to read from an original source to a class of students who took notes on the lecture. The reading from original sources evolved into the reading of glosses on an original and then more generally to lecture notes. Throughout much of history, the diffusion of knowledge via handwritten lecture notes was an essential element of academic life.
Even in the twentieth century the lecture notes taken by students, or prepared by a scholar for a lecture, have sometimes achieved wide circulation (see, for example, the genesis of Ferdinand de Saussure's Cours de linguistique générale). Many lecturers were, and still are, accustomed to simply reading their own notes from the lectern for exactly that purpose. Nevertheless, modern lectures generally incorporate additional activities, e.g. writing on a chalk-board, exercises, class questions and discussions, or student presentations.
The use of multimedia presentation software such as Microsoft PowerPoint has changed the form of lectures, e.g. video, graphics, websites, or prepared exercises may be included. Most commonly, however, only outlines composed of "bullet points" are presented. Critics contend that this style of lecture bombards the audience (as critics such as Edward Tufte put it) with unnecessary and possibly distracting or confusing graphics. Others simply think this form of lecture is non-spontaneous and boring.


Bligh, in What's the Use of Lectures? argues that lectures "represent a conception of education in which teachers who know give knowledge to students who do not and are therefore supposed to have nothing worth contributing." Based on his review of numerous studies, he concludes that lecturing is as effective, but not more effective, as any other teaching method in transmitting information. Nevertheless, lecturing is not the most effective method for promoting student thought, changing attitudes, or teaching behavioral skills.

Other forms

Many university courses relying on lectures supplement them with smaller discussion sections, tutorials, or laboratory experiment sessions as a means of further actively involving students. Often these supplemental sections are led by graduate students, tutors, Teaching Assistants or Teaching Fellows rather than senior faculty. Those other forms of academic teaching include discussion (recitation if conducted by a Teaching Assistant ), seminars, workshops, observation, practical application, case examples/case study, experiental learning/active learning, computer-based instruction and tutorials.
In schools the prevalent mode of student-teacher interaction is lessons.

See also


External links

lecture in Arabic: محاضرة
lecture in Bulgarian: Лекция
lecture in German: Vorlesung
lecture in Korean: 강의
lecture in Indonesian: Kuliah
lecture in Hebrew: הרצאה
lecture in Dutch: Hoorcollege
lecture in Japanese: 講義
lecture in Norwegian: Forelesning
lecture in Russian: Лекция
lecture in Simple English: Lecture
lecture in Finnish: Luento
lecture in Swedish: Föreläsning
lecture in Ukrainian: Лекція

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

address, admonish, admonishment, admonition, assignment, berate, berating, bring to book, call to account, castigation, censure, chalk talk, chastise, chastisement, chew out, chide, chiding, correct, correction, criticism, declaim, declamation, deliver a lecture, diatribe, discourse, disquisition, dissertation, dress down, dressing-down, exercise, explain, exposit, exposition, expound, fulminate against, harangue, have words with, hold forth, homework, homily, instruction, lecture-demonstration, lesson, moral, moral lesson, morality, moralization, moralize, object lesson, objurgate, objurgation, orate, paper, philippic, point a moral, pontificate, preach, preachification, preachify, preaching, preachment, prelect, prelection, rail at, rate, rating, read a lesson, read a sermon, rebuke, recital, recitation, religious discourse, remonstration, reprehend, reprehension, reprimand, reproach, reprobation, reproof, reproval, reprove, scold, scolding, screed, sermon, sermonette, sermonize, set down, set straight, set task, skull session, spank, spanking, speech, straighten out, take down, take to task, talk, task, teaching, tell off, tongue-lash, tongue-lashing, travelogue, treatise, upbraid, upbraiding, warn, wig
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