\ 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
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 Helen Obando, a shy slip of a girl, lay curled in a hospital bed in June waiting for a bag of stem cells from her bone marrow, modified by gene therapy, to start dripping into her chest. Gina Kolata,, "At 16, she’s a pioneer in the fight to cure sickle cell disease," 11 Jan. 2020 Place both hands on the bench shoulder distance apart (either with palms flat or with fingers on the bench and the palm curling around the edge of the seat — whatever is more comfortable for you). Stephanie Mansour, NBC News, "Shape up for summer with this 30-day walk/run interval training plan (no gym required)," 1 May 2020 First the male goes through what’s called self-insemination, curling his body to transfer sperm from his primary genitalia, at the tip of his abdomen, to the secondary genitalia, just below the thorax. National Geographic, "Dragonflies," 28 Apr. 2020 In a recent video, Ho showed viewers how to tone their arms by doing exercises like bicep curls with wine bottles found at home. Wendy Lee, Los Angeles Times, "Macaroni recipes and hand washing videos. How influencers are adapting to the coronavirus crisis," 17 Apr. 2020 Neither did the squidlike ammonites that curled like rams’ horns, or marine reptiles including the plesiosaurs (Loch Ness conspiracies notwithstanding). Quanta Magazine, "A Rapid End Strikes the Dinosaur Extinction Debate," 25 Mar. 2020 Ronaldo reached 98 career goals with Portugal after converting a penalty kick in the seventh minute, hitting the top corner with a curling shot from outside the area in the 22nd, and finding the net from close range in the 65th . . ., "Flames defenseman Brodie was convulsing," 15 Nov. 2019 Mohd Faiz Subri quickly rose to internet fame with this curling free-kick from range, completely bamboozling the goalkeeper and soaring into the top corner., "The Definitive Ranking of All 11 FIFA Puskas Award Winning Goals," 25 Sep. 2019 Midway through the half, Croft put Hebron up 5-0 with a curling free kick to the far corner from 30 yards out. Tim Schwartz,, "Howard varsity roundup (Sept. 24): Reservoir boys soccer beats Centennial in overtime," 25 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Total Texture Collection is a seven-piece range of hair tools that anyone with a curl, coil, or kink would be happy to have sitting atop their dressers. Jihan Forbes, Allure, "Goody's New Tools for Textured Hair Are Nikki Nelms-Approved," 1 Apr. 2020 Wrap the hair around a double-prong curling iron like the Nalu Waver to give the hair a more natural curl that has movement. Kristin Corpuz, Billboard, "Get The Look: How to Create Chic Hairstyles Like Kim Kardashian, Ariana Grande & More For New Year's Eve," 23 Dec. 2019 Starting in on makeup, Taylor preps her lashes with a quick curl. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Cara Taylor’s Guide to Model Makeup—And Fighting Fashion Month Fatigue," 19 Sep. 2019 For her signature style, it should be set high, every hair tucked into place, with a single, bouncy curl. Lauren Hubbard, Harper's BAZAAR, "18 Easy Halloween Costumes That Are All About The Hairstyle," 11 Sep. 2019 Afterwards dry your hair with a with a diffuser which will give you bouncy curls with lots of definition. Jennifer Ford, Essence, "3 Easy New Year’s Eve Hairstyles For Curly Hair," 27 Dec. 2019 For an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Brosnahan paired her disco curls with a set of glittering taupe Sally Lapointe capri pants and graphic kohl-rimmed eyes—two daring statements that would likely be approved by Bradshaw herself. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Rachel Brosnahan Steps Out With Carrie Bradshaw Curls in New York City," 30 July 2019 The pair both wore their brunette locks in curls, with Suri adding a headband to complete the look. Stephanie Petit,, "Katie Holmes and Daughter Suri, 12, Twin in Floral Dresses at the Ballet," 22 May 2018 Whether you’re creating beachy waves or coiled curls, GHD's tapered barrel effortlessly progresses from 1-inch to 0.9-inches, granting you versatility for voluminous looks. Melissa Lee, USA TODAY, "5 beauty products you should skip from Sephora's spring sale—and where to get them instead," 21 Apr. 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

27 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Curl.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for curl


How to pronounce Curl (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for curl

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

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