cu·​ra·​re | \ kyu̇-ˈrär-ē How to pronounce curare (audio) , ku̇- \
variants: or less commonly curari

Definition of curare

1 : a complex poison of South American Indians used on arrow tips that causes muscle relaxation and paralysis, includes various substances of plant and animal origin, and typically contains an alkaloid extracted from one of two South American vines (Strychnos toxifera of the family Loganiaceae or Chondodendron tomentosum of the family Menispermaceae) as the primary active ingredient
2 : an extract containing one of the primary alkaloid constituents (such as tubocurarine) of curare

Examples of curare in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Like their ancestors, the Yanomami hunt for wild boar and monkeys, using arrows tipped with poison from the curare plant. Luciana Magalhaes, WSJ, 27 Sep. 2020 Awareness became a clinical problem in the 1940s with the introduction of the paralyzing drug curare. Henry Marsh, New York Times, 3 Jan. 2018 Poison frogs, also known as poison dart frogs, belong to a diverse group that is commonly associated with curare and other toxins, with which indigenous people have historically laced their hunting spears. National Geographic, 18 Jan. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'curare.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of curare

1777, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for curare

Portuguese & Spanish curare, from Carib kurari

Learn More About curare

Dictionary Entries Near curare




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for curare

Cite this Entry

“Curare.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jul. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for curare


variants: also curari \ k(y)u̇-​ˈrär-​ē How to pronounce curare (audio) \

Medical Definition of curare

: a dried aqueous extract especially of a vine (as Strychnos toxifera of the family Loganiaceae or Chondodendron tomentosum of the family Menispermaceae) that produces muscle relaxation and is used in arrow poisons by South American Indians — compare tubocurarine

More from Merriam-Webster on curare Encyclopedia article about curare


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!