curfew

noun
cur·​few | \ ˈkər-(ˌ)fyü \

Definition of curfew

1 : the sounding of a bell at evening
2a : a regulation enjoining the withdrawal of usually specified persons (such as juveniles or military personnel) from the streets or the closing of business establishments or places of assembly at a stated hour The city ordered a curfew to prevent further rioting.
b : a signal to announce the beginning of a curfew
c : the hour at which a curfew becomes effective He has a 10 o'clock curfew.
d : the period during which a curfew is in effect

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What is the origin of curfew?

During the Middle Ages, houses in European towns were often made of wood and were close together, and fires could quickly spread from house to house. To prevent this, people were required to put out or cover their hearth fires by a certain time in the evening. A bell was rung as a signal when the time had come. In early French this signal was called coverfeu, a compound of covrir, meaning “to cover,” and feu, “fire.” Even when hearth fires were no longer regulated, many towns had other rules that called for the ringing of an evening bell, and this signal was still called coverfeu. A common coverfeu regulation required people to be off the streets by a given time. That was the meaning of the word when it was borrowed into Middle English as curfew.

Examples of curfew in a Sentence

The teens were stopped by police for violating the curfew. The city ordered a curfew soon after the rioting started. The town was placed under curfew. No one is allowed on the streets during the curfew. He has a 10 o'clock curfew.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In Kakuma, refugees can’t be on the camp streets after 7 p.m. or risk police harassment and fines for violating curfew. Deirdre Fernandes, BostonGlobe.com, "An education in hope," 7 July 2018 The kind who’ll wear the wrong color socks or miss curfew or have 25 parking tickets and not pay them off. Albert Breer, SI.com, "How a Soldier’s Story Helped Dan Quinn Build the Falcons," 2 July 2018 Louisville’s mayor ordered a curfew that night and requested the assistance of the Kentucky National Guard, which took to the streets armed with M-14 rifles over the next few days. Matthew Glowicki, The Courier-Journal, "In Louisville's Parkland neighborhood, the scars of 1968 riots are still visible," 26 May 2018 Prosecutors said Robert chafed under his parents’ rules and curfews, and Jeffrey described being yelled at repeatedly by his mother and hit by his father over bad grades. Holly Ramer, The Seattle Times, "Man resentenced to 40 years in parents’ 1996 murder," 30 Oct. 2018 And its ordinance code says anyone over 12 who gets caught trick-or-treating, or anyone who gets caught after curfew, could be charged with a misdemeanor and face fines from $25 to $100 or up to six months in jail. Megan Friedman, House Beautiful, "A Town in Virginia Has Set A Strict Age Limit For Trick-or-Treaters," 11 Oct. 2018 The citywide curfew will run from 10 pm until 6 am. Paulina Dedaj, Fox News, "Police arrest 5 in North Carolina as looters begin to capitalize on Florence chaos," 16 Sep. 2018 In a match between familiar foes that started Friday night but was called for curfew, Djokovic prevailed, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9), 3-6, 10-8. Sam Farmer, courant.com, "Djokovic Wins Another Marathon, Defeating Nadal In Wimbledon Semifinal," 14 July 2018 When the Nazi curfews began, in 1944, the walls between the courtyards of the apartment buildings in the area were opened up. András Szántó, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Budapest Is Europe's Unlikely Capital of Hedonism," 29 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'curfew.' 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 curfew

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for curfew

Middle English, from Anglo-French coverfeu, signal given to bank the hearth fire, curfew, from coverir to cover + fu, feu fire, from Latin focus hearth

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Dictionary Entries near curfew

Curete

curettage

curette

curfew

curfuffle

curia

curialism

Statistics for curfew

Last Updated

10 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for curfew

The first known use of curfew was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for curfew

curfew

noun

English Language Learners Definition of curfew

: an order or law that requires people to be indoors after a certain time at night
: the period of time when such an order or law is in effect
chiefly US : the time set by a parent at which a child has to be back home after going out

curfew

noun
cur·​few | \ ˈkər-ˌfyü \

Kids Definition of curfew

: a rule requiring certain or all people to be off the streets or at home at a stated time

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More from Merriam-Webster on curfew

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with curfew

Spanish Central: Translation of curfew

Nglish: Translation of curfew for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of curfew for Arabic Speakers

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