\ 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

Nani passed the ball to Akindele, who faced no pressure from the Crew’s backline, and curled a shot into the back of the net. Luis Torres, Pro Soccer USA, "Chris Mueller, Tesho Akindele score as Orlando City defeats Columbus Crew," 30 June 2019 Purce found space in the box and curled a shot just wide of goal in the 64th minute and shot wide on a similar chance in the 70th minute. Jarrid Denney For The Oregonian/oregonlive,, "A mixed bag for Portland: ‘A-Rod’ kept quiet, but Thorns scoreless too in 0-0 draw with Utah Royals," 22 June 2019 The only ridiculously curled white Colonial-style wig in the show is worn by Peter Matthew Smith, the actor playing King George III, and it is made from yak hair. Mary Carole Mccauley,, "Here comes 'Hamilton': What you need know about the musical coming to Baltimore that took over the world," 21 June 2019 Paperbacks litter the beach blanket, pages curling in the sea spray. Beth Thames |,, "We need Little Free Libraries at the beach," 19 June 2019 With her leading lady curls in tow, the actress sidekicked as Dr. Chase Meridian in Batman Forever, cozied up to Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut and danced her way around Paris in Moulin Rouge! Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Nicole Kidman’s New Hair Color Is the Ultimate Moulin Rouge Throwback," 21 Mar. 2019 Traditional hamstring curls involve both legs extending out and curling in tandem. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "Why You Should Add Hamstring Curls to Your Routine Like Celebrity Trainer Ashley Borden," 10 Oct. 2018 The closest Neymar came to scoring wasn’t until stoppage time at the end of the game, when a curling right-foot shot from the edge of the area looked to be creeping under the bar. Jonathan Clegg, WSJ, "Belgium’s Golden Generation Delivers on Promise With a Run to World Cup Semifinal," 6 July 2018 Vela scored in the 5th minute, curling a shot from outside the penalty box in to give LAFC a 1-0 lead. Fox News, "Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores stunning goal in MLS debut," 1 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The rest of her hair, currently a gorgeous, warm shade of copper, was born back in a ponytail with tumbling curls. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Zendaya's Long Bangs at the 'Euphoria' Premiere Are Just So Pretty," 5 June 2019 In 1904, Andrei Bely was still very young, with golden curls, blue eyes, and a tremendous amount of charm. Sarah Vitali, Harper's magazine, "Kill Your Darlings," 10 May 2019 Kate sported the look with shoulder-length curls during the Berlin reception, along with nude zig-zag sandals and red dangling earrings. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Looks Striking in a Red Dress for Her Mother's Birthday," 1 Feb. 2019 Gruff but ultimately affable, with gray curls and an unkempt goatee, Erwin has the build and demeanor of a retired football player. Daniel Otis, Sunset, "Awe-Inspiring Canadian Rockies Camping Adventure," 22 Jan. 2018 If there were waves, the curl of the foam was gray. Mary Grimm, The New Yorker, "Back Then," 17 June 2019 At the top of the curl, rotate wrists inward until palms face forward. Rozalynn S. Frazier,, "This 30-Day Arms Challenge Will Transform Your Upper Body In Just 4 Weeks," 10 June 2019 Traditionally, a stylist will wrap hair in rods before putting perm lotion on to set the curl. Katie Berohn, Good Housekeeping, "Everything You Need to Know About Modern Hair Perms," 30 Apr. 2019 At first glance, this move, also known as the Nordic curl, looks like a mini forward trust fall between you and the ground. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "How to Do Nordic Curls to Strengthen Your Hamstrings, Like Celebrity Trainer Ashley Borden," 14 Feb. 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

9 Jul 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

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