- a course in which lots of information is taught in a short period of time.
- a condensed course aimed at quickly covering material.
- intensive, accelerated course of instruction.
- hurried, fast-paced primer or introduction to a subject.
- training or instruction done in a compressed time frame.
- We took a crash course in Spanish last summer to prepare for our trip to Spain.
- New employees undergo a one-week crash course on company policies, procedures, and accounting practices.
- She rushed through a crash course on European history before the final exam.
- Retirement planning is a crash course in risks, rewards, deadlines, and difficult decisions.
- Learning to drive was a crash course in concentration, quick thinking, and handling pressure.
- A crash course in finances taught my kids good lessons in budgeting, saving, and spending wisely.
The phrase “crash course” emerged in the early 20th century to refer to a highly accelerated course of instruction compressed into a short period of time. It started becoming common in the 1920s and 1930s, as references to “crash courses” appeared in books, articles, and programs from that era. It originated during a broader trend toward faster, more intensified forms of learning and training. Accelerated learning techniques, compact curricula, and compressed class schedules were becoming more popular. Early uses of the phrase indicate it first emerged in aviation and military training, where pilots and soldiers needed to learn complex skills and procedures quickly. “Crash courses” were crash preparations, hastily teaching topics like navigation, flight techniques, combat strategies, and more.
Though originally quite literal, “crash course” soon took on the metaphorical meaning of an intensive course designed to rapidly teach a subject, from foreign languages to web design skills. The phrase endures because compressed, high-speed learning continues to be relevant. “Crash courses” zero in on speed, intensity, and brevity, imploring students to “crash” through a course’s content in minimal time.