I have seen this phrase many times, yet when I tried searching for coursing, the phrase was nowhere to be found. Example from The Free Dictionary:

Coursing is the pursuit of game or other animals by dogs—chiefly greyhounds and other sighthounds—catching their prey by speed, running by sight and not by scent. Coursing was a common hunting technique, practised by the nobility, the landed and wealthy, and commoners with sighthounds and lurchers. In its oldest recorded form in the Western world, as described by Arrian, the sport was practised by all levels of society, as remained the case until Carolingian hunting law (Forest Law) appropriated hunting grounds, or commons, for the king, the nobility, and other land owners.

I can imagine this meaning fit into the phrase, but that still doesn't explain the utter lack of any information on it, at least on the web.

  • 2
    Course is a regular verb with a regular present participle (the -ing form). Such forms are normally not listed in dictionaries. Aug 2 '13 at 19:15
  • The Web is vast. Look for usage, not definitions.
    – Kris
    Aug 3 '13 at 7:21

The definition of course is consistent with that of coursing. The present participle form is defined by Merriam-Webster as "the act of one that courses." Course is defined as the act of moving in a path from point to point. Hence, "poison coursing through one's veins" is equivalent to "poison moving in a path from point to point through one's veins."

  • That explains it. I was spoiled by The Free Dictionary's redirecting capabilities. For example, murdering redirects to murder. It was just a matter of time before I got bit by that one.
    – hauzer
    Aug 2 '13 at 19:45

As noted in a previous answer, “The definition of course is consistent with that of coursing”. But also note that in OED1 (1888) we have verb

Course 5. intr. To run or gallop about, to run as in a race, to career; also transf. of liquids, etc.

That is, the verb's sense of racers running about has transferred to liquids running about. OED illustrates that sense with examples referring to blood, streams, tears, etc.

  • More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and call'd them by name: Now! Grumpy, now! Happy, now! Dopey and Doc, On! Bashful, on! Sleepy, on! Sneezy and … no, that’s not right.
    – MetaEd
    Aug 3 '13 at 16:09

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