\ 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

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of curl in a Sentence

Verb 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. Noun 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 In recent years, lines drawn by coaches like Tom Crean or Archie Miller had to curl around the thorns of IU’s relationship with Knight, a rift that spanned two decades after his firing in 2000. Jon Blau, The Indianapolis Star, "Mike Woodson era at IU basketball comes with warm embrace of Bob Knight years," 13 Apr. 2021 Or how at the end of an especially locomotive burst of words, H.R. likes to curl his last syllable into a vertical shriek? Chris Richards, Washington Post, "The world is fast. Bad Brains is faster.," 8 Apr. 2021 Over the years as new hair technology has become available, many people resort to using a curling iron or even a flat iron to curl their hair. Jennifer Aldrich, Better Homes & Gardens, "Hair Rollers Are Back—Here’s How to Use Them for a Bouncy Blowout," 2 Apr. 2021 When asleep, octopuses curl themselves up and turn a white-grey color, but moments later, their bodies ripple into various hues as their muscles, suckers, and eight arms twitch. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, "Like Humans and Mammals, Octopuses May Have Two Stages of Sleep," 26 Mar. 2021 After selecting from six temperatures and 11 timer settings, place your hair into the iron's chamber and press the start button to curl your hair automatically. Nicole Saunders, NBC News, "6 travel-size hot tools: Flat irons, hair dryers and curling irons," 17 Mar. 2021 Be careful about the water temperature—if the water is too hot, fish could curl, meat could toughen, and eggs could scramble. Sarah Jampel, Bon Appétit, "What's the Difference Between Steaming, Boiling, Blanching, and Poaching?," 16 Mar. 2021 The system — known as an inside slider — will curl into the Great Basin, denying Southern California significant rain. Gary Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Greater San Diego will remain unseasonably cool through Tuesday," 12 Mar. 2021 Natural hair underwent a resurgence among Black women in the United States around the same time, giving rise to curl-specific products and stylists. New York Times, "The Freedom of Natural Curls: Egypt’s Quiet Rebellion," 11 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Those with curly hair can utilize the Diffuser, which features prongs to help maintain a natural curl pattern. Nicole Saunders, NBC News, "Best Dyson hair tools and hot tools of 2021," 13 Apr. 2021 In the past, chemical color had disrupted Cosmopolitan beauty director Julee Wilson’s natural curl pattern and dried out her hair. Rio Viera-newton, Curbed, "The Best Colorists in New York," 30 Mar. 2021 Over time, curl patterns can become tighter or looser. Amber Rambharose, Allure, "The Science of Beauty: How to Take Care of Curly Hair," 10 Dec. 2020 Our favorite curling iron wand, the GHD Curve Creative curl wand, for instance, drops from $199 to as low as $159.20 depending on your Insider status. Nishka Dhawan, USA TODAY, "Beauty Insiders can save big with a Sephora promo code for the huge spring savings event," 9 Apr. 2021 Wildflowers such as coreopsis, blue curl, bluebonnets and larkspur are blooming now. Calvin Finch, San Antonio Express-News, "Is it time to pull the plug and replace freeze-damaged sago palms and citrus trees?," 9 Apr. 2021 Try incorporating layers and feathering into your haircut so the hair can more easily maintain its curl. Lauren Farrell,, "How to get curly hair," 20 Mar. 2021 But then his face softens, his lips curl into a smile. Jen Spyra, The New Yorker, "The Boyfriend Identity: Part 2," 11 Mar. 2021 Jennings recommends alternating the direction of each curl to make your hair look tousled. Melissa Matthews, SELF, "14 Useful Tips If You Don’t Know How to Use a Curling Iron," 28 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for curl

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for curl

Last Updated

24 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Curl.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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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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