\ˈkər(-ə)l \
curled; curling; curls

Definition of curl 

(Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to form into coils or ringlets curl one's hair

2 : to form into a curved shape : twist curled his lip in a sneer

3 : to furnish with curls

intransitive verb

1a : to grow in coils or spirals

b : to form ripples or crinkles bacon curling in a pan

2 : to move or progress in curves or spirals : wind the path curled along the mountainside

3 : twist, contort

4 : to play the game of curling



Definition of curl (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a lock of hair that coils : ringlet

2 : something having a spiral or winding form : coil

3 : the action of curling : the state of being curled

4 : a curved or spiral marking in the grain of wood

5 : a hollow arch of water formed when the crest of a breaking wave spills forward

6 : a usually short pass pattern in football in which a receiver runs downfield and then curves back toward the line of scrimmage

7 : a body-building exercise in which a weight held with the palms facing up is raised and lowered by flexing only the wrists or elbows


biographical name
\ˈkər(-ə)l \

Definition of Curl (Entry 3 of 3)

Robert Floyd 1933–     American chemist

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Synonyms for curl

Synonyms: Verb

coil, corkscrew, entwine, spiral, twine, twist, wind

Synonyms: Noun

frizz, frizzle, ringlet

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Examples of curl in a Sentence


She curls her hair every morning. Can you curl your tongue? The baby's fingers were tightly curled. The snake curled itself around its prey. The cat curled into a ball and went to sleep. We saw smoke curling from the cottage chimney. A snake curled around his leg.


Her daughter has cute blonde curls. She likes to wear her hair in curls. The conditioner will help you keep the curl of your hair. His hair has a natural curl. He did 12 wrist curls.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

And in one of the great upsets of these Olympics, the U.S. men stunned Canada, or at least Canadian curling fans, with a 4-3 semifinal win. Michael Rosenberg,, "'It's the Olympics. Who is Going To Give Up Hope?': USA Curling is the Cinderella Story of the '18 Games," 22 Feb. 2018 On a recent afternoon, Flemming joined Fowler and Hamilton on the curling ice here at Westmount Golf and Country Club for a demonstration. Scott Cacciola, New York Times, "Engineering Marvel of the Winter Olympics: A Broom," 6 Feb. 2018 On May 29, 2017, Brianna Gussert’s body was found curled in her bed by Appleton authorities, according to the Appleton Post-Crescent. Harriet Sokmensuer,, "Teen Girl with Disabilities Suffered a 'Slow Death' from Her Mother's Neglect, Authorities Allege," 13 June 2018 My mother found a stick, lifted the melting newspaper that curled red at the corners, and dropped it back into the barrel, with the frilled cuffs of her sleeves dripping too close to the fire, too close. Liz Arnold, Longreads, "Making Peace with the Site of a Suicide," 11 July 2018 For extra oomph, unravel your topknot and try this: Using your fingers, divide the hair into four large sections, then curl the hair in each section with a curling iron to create a little definition and bounce. Deanna Pai, Redbook, "7 Surprising Hair Secrets the Pros Swear By," 12 May 2017 Pour in wine and broth and cook, stirring, until shrimp is curled and pink and corn turns tender, 2-3 minutes. Leah Eskin,, "Grits cakes make crispy cushion for spicy shrimp," 9 July 2018 Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring in the 20th minute, curling a beautiful right-footed shot from outside the penalty area into the top corner. Jesse Yomtov, USA TODAY, "World Cup 2018: Switzerland rallies back to hold Brazil to a draw," 17 June 2018 As a child, Berlange walked with a left tilt, and blood circulation issues made her toes curl and resulted in painful cramps. Melanie Dadourian, Fox News, "A woman mocked for her ugly leg takes revenge and becomes a model," 20 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For Madonna, a large black bow did little to restrain her tangle of wild curls—a nonverbal reminder that she would not be tamed. Alexandra Pechman, Vogue, "6 Iconic Women Who Turned a Hair Ribbon Into the Ultimate Beauty Win," 22 Oct. 2018 The Washington who slays red carpets and spent seven seasons proving that the color white was created for her makes way for off-duty Washington in a visor, a pouf of curls adding a few inches to her doll-like stature. Janet Mock, Marie Claire, "Kerry Washington's Next Act," 8 Oct. 2018 For a sample glider workout, Oprea suggests doing 15 seconds of reverse lunges and 15 seconds of lateral lunges, followed by 30 seconds each of plank jacks, mountain climbs, and plank twists, ending with 10 to 15 seconds of hamstring curls. Leah Prinzivalli, SELF, "Why You Should Try Using Sliders in Your Next Workout," 13 Aug. 2018 Meanwhile, Danner—donning glasses and a head full of silver curls—went demure in a red floral silk pajama set with a tie-up belt and cuffed hems. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Gwyneth Paltrow and Blythe Danner Prove You're Never Too Old for a Mommy-and-Me Moment," 21 July 2017 With those tips and this wash-day recipe, your curls will be as springy and soft as a perfectly baked soufflé. Devon Abelman, Allure, "11 Curl-Washing Tips From Real Women With Kinky-Curly Hair," 12 July 2018 Next, Jessica, a petite woman with a bun of brown curls and large golden earrings, shared her story. Katrine Jo Andersen, The New Republic, "Rejected by A.A.," 27 June 2018 Women are embracing their natural waves or curls a bit more these days. Jane Larkworthy, The Cut, "Alli Webb Has Opened Over a Hundred Drybars," 26 June 2018 The multipurpose hot tool was also used to add waves and curls of varying sizes to create a messier texture to Rih's luscious locks. Nicole Saunders, Billboard, "Rihanna Hairstylist Yusef Williams on Creating Her Diana Ross & Donna Summer-Inspired Grammy Hair: Exclusive," 30 Jan. 2018

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for curl


Middle English, from crul curly, probably from Middle Dutch; akin to Old High German krol curly

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Learn More about curl

Dictionary Entries near curl






curl cloud

curled cress

Statistics for curl

Last Updated

29 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for curl

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

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More Definitions for curl



English Language Learners Definition of curl

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to twist or form (something) into a round or curved shape

: to become curved or rounded

: to move in curves or circles



English Language Learners Definition of curl (Entry 2 of 2)

: a piece of hair that is formed into a round shape

: the ability of hair to form curls

: something that is curved or has a round shape


\ˈkərl \
curled; curling

Kids Definition of curl

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to twist or form into ringlets curl hair

2 : to take or move in a curved form Smoke was curling from the chimney.

curl up

: to arrange the body into a ball You would come into a room, and he might be curled up in a chair, but you wouldn't see him.— E. B. White, Stuart Little



Kids Definition of curl (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a lock of hair that coils : ringlet

2 : something having a spiral or winding form : coil a curl of smoke

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Comments on curl

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