\ ˈkər(-ə)l How to pronounce curl (audio) \
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 How to pronounce Curl (audio) \

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

Both of Landerman’s paintings feature white-capped, blue waves that are dramatically curling. Mike Giuliano,, "Resident artists in spotlight at Howard County Arts Council show," 6 June 2019 Moments later the hosts sealed their place in the final on the counter-attack as Ronaldo curled into the far corner to take his tally of international goals to 88., "Ronaldo hat-trick sends Portugal into Nations League final," 5 June 2019 Yesterday for her big day, Depp played up her cascade of dirty blonde waves, curled and teased to retro bombshell effect by hairstylist Bryce Scarlett (who also masterminded Robbie's tribute looks) with a ‘60s-leaning take on graphic eyeliner. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Lily Rose Depp Channels Sharon Tate With ‘60s-Inspired Eyeliner," 28 May 2019 For her coronation, Sansa wore her signature red hair down—not braided, coiled, or curled. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "Sansa Stark's Finale Hairstyle Had a Queen Elizabeth I Connection," 20 May 2019 The trick to recreating this look is to take out a few pieces of hair, mainly toward the front of your head, and curl them with an iron. Victoria Rodriguez, Seventeen, "13 Graduation Hairstyles That Will Still Look Cute Under Your Grad Cap," 9 Apr. 2019 Taking her pregnancy glow to new heights, Markle emerged from The Mark Hotel with a flushed complexion and lightly curled lengths set in place with a spritz of medium hold hair spray. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Meghan Markle Lets Her Hair Down for Her New York Baby Shower," 19 Feb. 2019 Here's to finally mastering how to curl your hair, once and for all. Megan Gustashaw, Glamour, "7 Tips That'll Make Curling Your Hair So Much Easier," 26 Apr. 2019 Just pull your hair into an elegant low bun and then use a wand to loosely curl the pieces of hair around your face. Victoria Rodriguez, Seventeen, "13 Graduation Hairstyles That Will Still Look Cute Under Your Grad Cap," 9 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Her skin is clear as can be and her curls have volume that most of us only dream of. Samantha Lauriello,, "Sarah Hyland’s Natural Hair Is on Full Display in This No-Makeup Selfie," 5 June 2019 The reality star donated his curls to Locks of Love. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "'Survivor' Star Joe Anglim Is Unrecognizable After Chopping Off His Hair," 27 May 2019 Even her hair and makeup—soft-finger curls and a flawless cat-eye—were aligned with the old-Hollywood theme of her look. Glamour, "You Have to See What Priyanka Chopra Wore to Her First Cannes Red Carpet," 16 May 2019 Case in point: The Dyson Airwrap, a hair styling tool that delivers a whole range of looks — bouncier blowouts, longer-lasting curls, and frizz-smoothing flat-ironing — with technology borrowed from jet engines, of all things. Allure, "The 5 Most Innovative Beauty Product Launches of 2019, According to Allure Readers," 14 May 2019 The actress has worn many styles for her major roles: buzzcuts, big curls, and more. Maya Allen, Marie Claire, "Natalie Portman's Hair Is Super Short Now and Looks Amazing in a Bob," 30 Apr. 2019 Hamstring curls, deadlifts, and box squats are among the most popular options. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "How to Do Nordic Curls to Strengthen Your Hamstrings, Like Celebrity Trainer Ashley Borden," 14 Feb. 2019 The 28-year-old actress flaunted her curls while promoting her new film Dreamland this week at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Margot Robbie Just Debuted Curly Hair for the First Time," 30 Apr. 2019 The Look: Berenson frames her iconic curls with a handful of tropical flowers for her Beverly Hills wedding. 12. Vogue, "The Best Wedding Hair Styles of All Time, From Brigitte Bardot to Diana Ross," 26 Apr. 2019

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

25 Jun 2019

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 How to pronounce curl (audio) \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on curl

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with curl

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for curl

Spanish Central: Translation of curl

Nglish: Translation of curl for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of curl for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about curl

Comments on curl

What made you want to look up curl? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to take the place or position of

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