Kaurava is a Sanskrit term, that refers to the descendants of Kuru, a legendary king who is the ancestor of many of the characters of the Mahābhārata. Alternate name of sons of Dhritarashtra.
The term is used in the Mahābhārata with two meanings:
The wider meaning, is used to represent all the descendants of Kuru. This meaning, which includes the Pandava brothers, is often used in the earlier parts of popular renditions of the Mahābhārata.
The narrower but more common meaning, is used to represent the elder line of the descendants of King Kuru. This restricts it to the children of King Dhritarashtra, as his line is the older line of descent from Kuru. It excludes the children of the younger brother Pandu, who founds his own line, the Pandava.
The rest of this article deals with the Kaurava in the narrower sense, that is the children of Dhritarashtra by Gandhari. When referring to these children, a more specific term is also used - Dhartarashtra, a derivative of Dhritarashtra.