cur·​dle | \ ˈkər-dᵊl How to pronounce curdle (audio) \
curdled; curdling\ ˈkərd-​liŋ How to pronounce curdling (audio) , ˈkər-​dᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of curdle

intransitive verb

1 : to form curds also : to congeal as if by forming curds a scream curdled in her throat
2 : to go bad or wrong : spoil

transitive verb

1 : to cause curds to form in curdled milk
2 : spoil, sour

Examples of curdle in a Sentence

Too much heat will make the custard curdle. Too much heat will curdle the custard.
Recent Examples on the Web In recent years, however, our infatuation with these creations has begun to curdle. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "Big Tech’s Pandemic Power Grab," 12 June 2020 For all his commitment to nonviolence, however, King understood the way frustration can turn into rage and rage can curdle into nihilism, when injustice is too brutal to comprehend and justice is perpetually deferred. Gilbert Garcia,, "Garcia: For San Antonio, Saturday unrest leads to Sunday healing," 31 May 2020 But the conditions the Fuyao workers face are challenging, and the locals’ initial friendliness toward the company curdles into something more complex as the United Automobile Workers begin to organize the factory. David Sims, The Atlantic, "American Factory Is a Complex Chronicle of Global Capitalism," 30 Aug. 2019 But Matthews was vulnerable, too, because his shtick had curdled and grown sour after 20 years. Joel Mathis, TheWeek, "The end of Chris Matthews," 3 Mar. 2020 Remove the simmering cream mixture from the heat and drizzle a little bit of it into the egg yolks to temper but not cook them, whisking constantly to keep the yolks from curdling. Olga Massov, Washington Post, "We can’t stop eating this butterscotch custard with coconut cream," 12 Dec. 2019 The narrator’s admiration for Billy’s writing begins to curdle into jealousy; Billy’s gritty qualities start looking naive and coarse. Mark Athitakis, USA TODAY, "Review: Teddy Wayne's 'Apartment' a savvy novel about class and male friendship," 24 Feb. 2020 Your Instagram photo of the day Nap time: Raised on yak milk, a Kyrgyz baby naps in a yurt in Afghanistan's remote Pamir Mountains, surrounded by buckets of curdling milk. National Geographic, "How do photographers cover the world's deadly viruses?," 24 Jan. 2020 Gradually, the grief shared by Greenberg’s friends would curdle into suspicion — and eventually anger. Rene Rodriguez And Charles Rabin, miamiherald, "Bizarre death of real estate veteran leads to million-dollar court battle | Miami Herald," 25 Mar. 2018

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

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First Known Use of curdle

1585, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for curdle

frequentative of curd entry 2

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Time Traveler for curdle

Time Traveler

The first known use of curdle was in 1585

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Statistics for curdle

Last Updated

20 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Curdle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for curdle


How to pronounce curdle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of curdle

: to thicken and separate into liquids and solids : to form curds


cur·​dle | \ ˈkər-dᵊl How to pronounce curdle (audio) \
curdled; curdling

Kids Definition of curdle

: to thicken or cause to become thickened with or as if with curds The milk curdled.

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More from Merriam-Webster on curdle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for curdle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with curdle

Spanish Central: Translation of curdle

Nglish: Translation of curdle for Spanish Speakers

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