Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb \ˈkər(-ə)l\

Simple Definition of curl

  • : to twist or form (something) into a round or curved shape

  • : to become curved or rounded

  • : to move in curves or circles

Full Definition of curl

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to form (as the hair) into coils or ringlets

  3. 2 :  to form into a curved shape :  twist <curled his lip in a sneer>

  4. 3 :  to furnish with curls

  5. intransitive verb
  6. 1 a :  to grow in coils or spirals b :  to form ripples or crinkles <bacon curling in a pan>

  7. 2 :  to move or progress in curves or spirals :  wind <the path curled along the mountainside>

  8. 3 :  twist, contort

  9. 4 :  to play the game of curling

Examples of curl

  1. She curls her hair every morning.

  2. Can you curl your tongue?

  3. The baby's fingers were tightly curled.

  4. The snake curled itself around its prey.

  5. The cat curled into a ball and went to sleep.

  6. We saw smoke curling from the cottage chimney.

  7. A snake curled around his leg.

Origin of curl

Middle English, from crul curly, probably from Middle Dutch; akin to Old High German krol curly

First Known Use: 14th century




Simple Definition of curl

  • : a piece of hair that is formed into a round shape

  • : the ability of hair to form curls

  • : something that is curved or has a round shape

Full Definition of curl

  1. 1 :  a lock of hair that coils :  ringlet

  2. 2 :  something having a spiral or winding form :  coil

  3. 3 :  the action of curling :  the state of being curled

  4. 4 :  a curved or spiral marking in the grain of wood

  5. 5 :  a hollow arch of water formed when the crest of a breaking wave spills forward

  6. 6 :  a usually short pass pattern in football in which a receiver runs downfield and then curves back toward the line of scrimmage

  7. 7 :  a body-building exercise in which a weight held with the palms facing up is raised and lowered by flexing only the wrists or elbows

Examples of curl

  1. Her daughter has cute blonde curls.

  2. She likes to wear her hair in curls.

  3. The conditioner will help you keep the curl of your hair.

  4. His hair has a natural curl.

  5. He did 12 wrist curls.


First Known Use of curl


Rhymes with curl


biographical name \ˈkər(-ə)l\

Definition of Curl

  1. Robert Floyd 1933–     Am. chem.

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up curl? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 8, 2016

to clear from accusation or blame

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

kittly-benders spindrift pince-nez duvet
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.