Run Its Course

Meaning Of Idiom ‘Run Its Course’

When something has run its course, it has reached an endpoint or a natural conclusion without outside interference or help. 1Chetwynd, Josh. The Field Guide to Sports Metaphors: A Compendium of Competitive Words and Idioms]. Berkeley: Ten Speed, 2016.2Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

Usage

This idiom often refers to diseases or illnesses but can refer to anything that has a starting and endpoint and which does not need any human intervention to conclude. In its earliest uses, this idiom referred to periods of time, such a century, and often to the sun which “ran its course” across the sky.

Examples Of Use

“The doctor said I had a simple stomach virus and it would run its course within a few days.”

“Doctors use to say that a disease must run its course, but this was just a way of saying they had no cure for it.”

“You don’t have to take all that medicine for a simple cold,” said mom. “Just stay in bed and let it run its course.”

“The first year of the new administration has run its course and, so far, it has been efficient and free of scandal.”

“I think it’s time for us to part ways,” said Gerald. “It’s clear our partnership has run its course.”

“After the preliminary pleasantries had run their course, which took a full two days, the talks finally got underway.”

Origin

This idiom has been in use since the 1400s, although its use in medicine appeared much later. 3Chetwynd, Josh. The Field Guide to Sports Metaphors: A Compendium of Competitive Words and Idioms]. Berkeley: Ten Speed, 2016. The word course is used in the sense of a forward movement or a particular path. 4Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

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Sources   [ + ]

1, 3. Chetwynd, Josh. The Field Guide to Sports Metaphors: A Compendium of Competitive Words and Idioms]. Berkeley: Ten Speed, 2016.
2, 4. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.