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 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 Fiers took the mound Saturday with a most unusual look, a big swoosh of facial hair running from the right side of his face and then curling up around his lip — with no beard along the left side, just a big curlicue. Susan Slusser,, "Fiers exits with an injury, but A’s use four homers to top Texas," 14 Sep. 2019 The band is simultaneously meticulous and goofy: Ligon’s solos are dynamic; Perrin and McDonough navigate every style and curlicue arrangement with ease. John Lingan, Washington Post, "Why NRBQ never really needed a hit record to measure its success," 16 Aug. 2019 Serebrennikov, working with cinematographer Vladislav Opelyants, peers at this world through a veil of black-and-white nostalgia, tinted by occasional warm bursts of color and music video-style graphic curlicues. Justin Chang,, "Review: ‘Leto’ is a vibrant portrait of Leningrad’s underground ’80s rock scene," 19 June 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for curlicue

Time Traveler

The first known use of curlicue was in 1843

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Statistics for curlicue

Last Updated

9 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Curlicue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with curlicue

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