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cur·​li·​cue ˈkər-lē-ˌkyü How to pronounce curlicue (audio)
variants or less commonly curlycue
: a fancifully curved or spiral figure : flourish


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curlicued; curlicuing

transitive verb

: to embellish with curlicues

Example Sentences

Noun Curlicues were carved into the wood.
Recent Examples on the Web
But everything around Tom — the comically excessive costumes, the colorful side characters, the romp-like tone, the moral curlicues — more than compensates for his blandness. Matthew Gilbert,, 10 May 2023 In one, two sections of Thompson's hair are slicked down into graphic curlicues across her forehead, and in another, Thompson poses in a blue plaid Vivienne Westwood jacket and ribbon choker with her hair in a sleek knot and her baby hairs styled into similar curly swoops. Kara Nesvig, Allure, 22 Feb. 2023 Case in point: a clog transformed from humble to fantastical with a towering platform and heel accented by a curlicue toe. Laura Rysman, ELLE, 22 Feb. 2023 The French automaker teamed with an interior designer for this restomodded electric Renault 5 with ornate details, including a marbled curlicue steering wheel. Renault, Car and Driver, 6 July 2022 Finally, as if playing a visual symphonic encore, a giant streak of phosphorous green seems to swoop down to the treetops and dollop them with a curlicue swirl. Francine Kiefer, The Christian Science Monitor, 25 Jan. 2023 This particular shot is in the ultraviolet, where Earth's atmosphere is almost opaque, completely cutting off the Sun's light... except for that one little curlicue on the left. Discover Magazine, 7 Dec. 2011 Use a medium-tip black permanent marker to doodle curlicue lines, broadening a few strokes. Emily Vanschmus, Better Homes & Gardens, 20 Oct. 2022 Fayette Station Road will give you an up-close view of the bridge and driving the curlicue roads with hairpin turns is an experience like no other. Wendy Altschuler, Forbes, 16 June 2022
The cutwork curlicues, stars, and trees on the border of this runner definitely deliver the wow factor. Sarah Halverson, Better Homes & Gardens, 12 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'curlicue.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



curly + cue a braid of hair

First Known Use


1843, in the meaning defined above


1844, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of curlicue was in 1843

Dictionary Entries Near curlicue

Cite this Entry

“Curlicue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


variants also curlycue
: a fancifully curved or spiral figure (as a flourish in handwriting)

More from Merriam-Webster on curlicue

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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