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

Are things curdling on the set of the action-thriller Gunpowder Milkshake? Clark Collis,, "See Michelle Yeoh tell Lena Headey to 'F--- off!' on set of action-thriller Gunpowder Milkshake," 5 July 2019 Ingredients like sour cream tend to curdle, so opt for veggie or chicken stock instead. Maria Carter, Woman's Day, "How to Cook Anything In a Slow Cooker," 12 Jan. 2016 The rivalry between the Salander sisters was curdling, though the fights stayed on the screen. Lauren Sanchez, Vogue, "The Girl in the Spider’s Web," 5 Nov. 2018 On the negative side, the Smeg struggled to process frozen strawberries for smoothies, and curdled ice cream in milkshakes. The Good Housekeeping Institute, Good Housekeeping, "Smeg 50's Style #BLF01," 30 June 2015 The Enlightenment was made possible by civility: The vivd exchange of ideas in an atmosphere in which disagreement doesn't curdle into disrespect. Daniel Mendelsohn, Town & Country, "Is This the End of Civility As We Know It?," 29 June 2016 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

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

Statistics for curdle

Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for curdle

The first known use of curdle was in 1590

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More Definitions for curdle



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with curdle

Spanish Central: Translation of curdle

Nglish: Translation of curdle for Spanish Speakers

Comments on curdle

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a small bunch of flowers

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