cur·​dle | \ˈkər-dᵊl \
curdled; curdling\ ˈkərd-​liŋ , 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

The committee's intervention against Moser was condemned by every candidate in the race, curdling the mood in what had been a feisty but positive primary. David Weigel,, "Texas kicks off crowded Democratic primary with enthusiasm, meddling," 6 Mar. 2018 For decades, as other regimes collapsed or curdled into dysfunctional pretend democracies, China’s held strong, even prospered. Max Fisher, New York Times, "Xi Sets China on a Collision Course With History," 28 Feb. 2018 However, when Garnett learned that York had sodomized an underage female follower, her feelings curdled. Christine Pelisek,, "4 Things You'll Learn About an Egyptian-Themed Sect Hiding Child Sex Abuse, on Monday's PMI: Cults," 8 July 2018 She was gunned down by a troubled man whose fandom had curdled into a dark obsession. Jeff Weiner,, "CHRISTINA GRIMMIE: THE MURDER OF A RISING STAR," 10 June 2018 Milk is fermented by lactic acid bacteria or curdled by heat or acid from a souring agent like lemon juice or vinegar. New York Times, "A Guide to Soft Fresh Cheeses: Cottage Cheese, Mascarpone and More," 26 June 2018 The resistance girding for war, or curdling into hysteria, depending on your view. Rachel Van Dongen, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Trump's trade war is getting very real," 3 July 2018 Because those activists’ tendency to view the party as a monolithically hostile, alien force carries with it a major downside, which was all too painfully manifested in 2016: Useful critique and insurgent energy can curdle into cynical disaffection. Sam Rosenfeld, Vox, "The Democratic Party is moving steadily leftward. So why does the left still distrust it?," 22 June 2018 That optimism has curdled, largely because of the side effects of success. Justin Davidson, Daily Intelligencer, "Downtown Nashville Is Supposed to Be the Model of the Walkable 21st-Century City. I’m Not So Sure.," 8 June 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

1590, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for curdle

frequentative of curd entry 2

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Dictionary Entries near curdle


curd cheese

curd knife



curd mill

cur dog

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Time Traveler for curdle

The first known use of curdle was in 1590

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English Language Learners Definition of curdle

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


cur·​dle | \ˈkər-dᵊl \
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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See words that rhyme with curdle

Spanish Central: Translation of curdle

Nglish: Translation of curdle for Spanish Speakers

Comments on curdle

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playful or foolish behavior

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