\ 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

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 At first, the plants would retract and curl their leaves when they were dropped. Katia Moskvitch, WIRED, "Slime Molds Remember—But Do They Learn?," 14 July 2018 Promise seemed about to be fulfilled when Kieran Trippier curled in a free kick in the fifth minute for his first international goal, above leaping Dejan Lovren and Mandzukic and past the desperate dive of goalkeeper Danijel Subasic. Ronald Blum, The Christian Science Monitor, "Croatia will make its first-ever appearance in World Cup final," 12 July 2018 Some have horns stretching to great spans, while others’ horns curl close to their heads. Oliver Griffin, WSJ, "Like Your Steak Aged 36 Months? Try 17 Years," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Read on for the three best curl refreshing sprays that held up to the challenge. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "I Tried the Best Curl Refresher Sprays on My Day-After-Sex Hair," 4 June 2018 Once all the curls are complete and cooled (for about 10 minutes), Danilo lets them down, revealing bouncy, glamorous waves. Jillian Ruffo,, "Video: How to Get Gwen Stefani's Glam Half-Up Hairstyle — It's Easier Than It Looks!," 27 Apr. 2018 Queen Elizabeth walked down the aisle with perfectly coiffed, shoulder-length curls. Alex Warner, Marie Claire, "Apparently, This Is the Wedding Hairstyle Meghan Markle Will Likely Wear," 30 Apr. 2018 Travis Leslie's weakside curl for the dunk of the game? J. Michael, Indianapolis Star, "T.J. Leaf 'wasn't great' but better than summer league opener as Pacers beat Spurs," 7 July 2018 Fans online were quick to mock the midfielder's new blonde curls, with many comparing it to spaghetti., "Man Utd Legend Eric Cantona Imitates Neymar's New Haircut By Putting Spaghetti on His Head," 19 June 2018 My hair has soft curls, even after two pregnancies and seven years. Melissa Dahl, The Cut, "100 Women on the Wildest Ways Their Bodies Changed After Pregnancy," 30 May 2018 Circuit one is three rounds of 45 second hammer bicep curls, alternating bent over rows, and back lunges with knee drives on each leg. Danielle Tullo, House Beautiful, "This Is the Workout That Christina El Moussa Does For Her Killer Body," 30 May 2018 One of his favorite tools is the drop set: Performing an isolation exercise—a biceps curl, for example—until failure, and then swapping that weight for one that's a little bit lighter. Boris Abrams, GQ, "How to Take Better Nudes," 17 May 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

17 Sep 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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