cur·​li·​cue | \ ˈkər-lē-ˌkyü How to pronounce curlicue (audio) , -li- \
variants: or less commonly curlycue

Definition of curlicue

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a fancifully curved or spiral figure : flourish


curlicued; curlicuing

Definition of curlicue (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to embellish with curlicues

Examples of curlicue in a Sentence

Noun Curlicues were carved into the wood.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun For all the book’s Hunter S. Thompson curlicues, the essential information is communicated. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "The War on Coffee," 20 Apr. 2020 See more updates More live coverage: Markets U.S. New York Merle Dry, 55, who died on Wednesday in a hospital in Tulsa, Okla., trimmed the hedges at Oral Roberts University into topiary birds and curlicues. Ellen Barry, New York Times, "She Was More Than a Statistic in a Pandemic: ‘We Didn’t Want Her to Get Lost’," 22 Mar. 2020 His trailing leg embroiders the glide with lariat-like curlicues, but what draws a viewer’s eye, hypnotically, is the motor: the spiraling, snaking motion of those hips. Brian Seibert, New York Times, "Overlooked No More: Earl Tucker, a Dancer Known as ‘Snakehips’," 18 Dec. 2019 However, the director can't resist a fussy curlicue — in this case having all four Glorias become powerful witches while the sexist interviewer is sucked out of the studio by a giant red Wizard of Oz-style tornado. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Glorias': Film Review | Sundance 2020," 27 Jan. 2020 The light in the corner shifted weirdly, warped, spun into curlicues and spirals that should only have existed in Escher drawings. David Canfield,, "Jim Butcher offers a sneak peek of upcoming novel Peace Talks," 16 Jan. 2020 His beautiful women are less flesh and blood than a waltz of curlicues conveyed in a palette of greens, peach, and ocher — nature’s colors. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "The Art of Posters," 11 Jan. 2020 From the air, this lowland delta, covering an area the size of Nebraska, is a tawny-and-cobalt expanse of tundra and tributaries and lakes, its looping rivers etching a dazzling curlicue. Simon Montlake, The Christian Science Monitor, "Will climate change force this Alaska village to relocate?," 1 July 2019 All the verbal curlicues of Badiou’s modern French Marxism are really just a mysterious benediction over any word or deed that works revolution. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Roma Locuta Est, Deal With It," 28 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'curlicue.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of curlicue


1843, in the meaning defined above


1844, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for curlicue


curly + cue a braid of hair

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about curlicue

Time Traveler for curlicue

Time Traveler

The first known use of curlicue was in 1843

See more words from the same year

Statistics for curlicue

Cite this Entry

“Curlicue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for curlicue


How to pronounce curlicue (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of curlicue

: a decoratively curved line or shape


cur·​li·​cue | \ ˈkər-li-ˌkyü How to pronounce curlicue (audio) \

Kids Definition of curlicue

: a fancy shape having curves in it

More from Merriam-Webster on curlicue

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for curlicue

Comments on curlicue

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!