Yesterday, I wrote about the term campaign. While I was writing that article, it occurred to me that the term adventure has some shading to its meaning.
For example, some use the term adventure to indicate a single session. Others mean it to indicate a set of a contained story, plot, or location. Sometimes the adventure can be played in a single game session, other times, it might drag on for weeks, if it is the looting of a large replenishing dungeon.
I think commercial modules had a big impact on the use of the word adventure. The module is a self-contained whole, and the DM does not have to do anything beyond become familiar with it. Of course, customization is always an option. A series of adventures, like the Drow series could each be considered a single adventure, or the completion of the entire story arch within could be classed as an adventure.
A series of adventures, whether interrelated or not serve to make up a campaign, whatever one means by campaign.
Like so much of language, a lot of it is dictated by convention, experience, and preference. All of the above uses are correct. I supposed there are those that like to argue the fine points of any use of a word. However, that is an academic exercise that does not interest everyone. The point is to get together and play!
All terms with multiple meanings can confuse new players, so one should work to minimize the jargon, or define it on the go. The key to growing the hobby is helping new players want to play again.
How else have you used or encountered other uses in the RPG context of the term adventure?
Of course, no matter how you use the term adventure, an adventurer is one who has or goes on adventures.