\ 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 While curling was a relatively easy Olympic sport to re-create at home, this father had bigger plans for keeping his kids happy while socially distancing. Melissa Locker, Time, "Dad Entertains His Kids By Hosting Olympics Extravaganza Indoors," 18 May 2020 Kaitlyn’s interest in curling came from her parents, who after watching the Olympics years ago took up the sport as members of the Mayfield Curling Club. John Benson, cleveland, "Fairview Park High School senior and Team USA curler returns from 2020 Winter Youth Olympics," 12 Feb. 2020 While Prost released his leonine curls from his helmet at the side of the track, Senna had weaved his way down the escape road and returned to the track. Sarah Holt, CNN, "Japanese GP: Driven by emotion, Senna and Prost collide at Suzuka," 10 Oct. 2019 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Subdued clicks of a digital beat and swelling saxophone notes from hip-hop and jazz artist Terrace Martin curl around Bridges’ velvety chords in the short but powerful song. Dallas News, "Leon Bridges delves into his experiences with racism in new single, ‘Sweeter’," 9 June 2020 Ebonee Davis and beauty influencer Alissa Ashley asked for the tea on Lennox’s curl cure. Shalwah Evans, Essence, "Fans Beg For An Ari Lennox Hair Care Line After She Posts A New Photo Of Her Curls," 17 June 2020 That makes for a pretty good stay-at-home, curl-up-in-sweatpants date night. CNN, "Start your Monday smart: George Floyd, elections, PGA, Phish, NASCAR," 7 June 2020 When a defense is playing Cover 3, the hook-curl defenders are going to be responsible for picking up the slants. John Owning, Dallas News, "Cowboys film notebook: Breaking down Amari Cooper’s sluggo mastery and a concept Mike McCarthy may use a lot," 5 June 2020 Oriana Leckert, another member of Kickstarter’s outreach team, whose bouncy curls match her ebullience and enthusiasm, tried to count along but lost track. Bryce Covert, Wired, "How Kickstarter Employees Formed a Union," 27 May 2020 Brighten your door with this patriotic 16-inch wreath made of red, white and blue wood curls resembling rose buds spangled with stars. Kathy Passero, al, "Ready for Memorial Day? From pools to picnics, 10 great items to help you celebrate the unofficial start of summer," 15 May 2020 And y'know, Dale wanting Tinsley's hair to look a certain way — my guess would be Dale preferred an early-2000s barrel curl just like the good ol' days when Tinsley was destined for greatness — most certainly is symbolic of something deeper. Jodi Walker,, "The Real Housewives of New York City recap: A prancing pimp in pajamas," 1 May 2020 There's these little bangs with little curls that come around her cheeks. Hugh Hart, Fortune, "How ‘Mrs. America’ designers revived a ’70s feminist showdown," 14 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

10 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Curl.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 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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