Discus - discuss

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It is easy enough to confuse these two words in writing by a simple typing error. Don't do it!

  • Discus (with a single '-s-') is a noun. It means the disc-shaped object which is thrown in an athletic event - also called 'the discus', informally: more formally, the event is 'throwing the discus'. Discus is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable, and an indistinct second syllable (IPA: /ˈdɪsk əs/).
  • 'To discuss' (with a double '-s-') is a verb. The modern sense - the one most likely for students to want - is "To investigate or examine by argument; to sift the considerations for and against; to debate" OED. Discuss is pronounced with the stress on the second syllable, and a vowel in the second syllable like that in 'but': IPA: /dɪs ˈkʌs/.
From its early use in Middle English until the eighteenth century, discuss could mean 'declare', 'announce' or 'make known'. It became more decisive, and until the second half of the eighteenth century it could mean 'to decide' or 'to determine [a matter or question]', 'to come to a conclusion'; it could be used of a judge deciding a case. It is not used nowadays with such a firm denotation. There are further, essentially obsolete, technical legal meanings of this: see OED s.v. discuss, v, meanings 5 a. and b..
'To discuss' an item of food or drink is to consume it - to eat it or drink it. This is now always jocular, or semi-jocular.
Further obsolete meanings are listed in OED.