What is a syllabus? The word's etymology clues us in. Syllabus originated from a misreading of the Latin sittybas, the accusative plural of sittyba, from the Greek sittuba for 'parchment label, title-slip, table of contents.' A syllabus is 'an outline of course requirements.' Meanwhile, course derives from the Latin cursus, 'a running race or course,' from curs-, the past participle stem of currere, 'to run.' Like a track-and-field event, a college or university course requires practice, effort, and the best mental attitude.