\ ˈkər(-ə)l \
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 \

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

Adnan Januzaj scored with a curling shot in the 51st minute on a night of little tension or attacking intent. Rob Harris,, "Belgium beats England 1-0, moves into tougher side of World Cup draw," 28 June 2018 Adnan Januzaj scored with a curling shot in the 51st minute on a night of little tension or attacking intent. Rob Harris,, "Belgium defeats England as both teams advance at World Cup," 28 June 2018 That's an instinct that's easier to understand than curling. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "Critic's Notebook: Adam Rippon and Shaun White Illustrate NBC's Winter Olympics Coverage Challenges," 14 Feb. 2018 Exfoliating both before and after hair removal helps would-be ingrown hairs to push through the skin and grow out instead of curling under, waxing expert Cindy Barshop from New York City's VSPOT Medispa previously told Allure. Sophie Wirt, Allure, "The 15 Best Body Scrubs and Exfoliators for Dry Skin," 11 Sep. 2018 Amazing Race’ with my sister (Becca Hamilton, a member of the U.S. Olympic women’s curling team). Gary D'amato, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "D'Amato: Olympic curler Matt Hamilton is enjoying his 15 minutes of fame," 9 Mar. 2018 That’s also where the United States’ curling team is after winning the men’s final , beating Sweden 10-7. Washington Post, "Ledecka gets rare double Olympic gold; US men win curling," 6 Mar. 2018 Consider the success of the South Korean women’s curling team at these Olympics — and the effect its surprisingly strong showing here will have on the continued growth of the game in Asia. Scott Cacciola, New York Times, "Canada’s Curling Is Crumbling! Or Something Like That.," 23 Feb. 2018 The number refers to curl families, while the letter, from A to C, points to how tightly wound your curls are within that. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "How to Figure Out Your Curl Type and Why It Actually Helps," 14 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Spray a bunch in and scrunch the hair with your hands or dry with a diffuser for lots of kinky fun curl. Kaitlyn Frey,, "Shop Every Beauty Product Drew Barrymore Swears By," 24 May 2018 There was Yara Shahidi's soft rosy lids and voluminous curls, Laura Harrier's fuschia frock and matching magenta pout, and across the carpet, Lady Gaga swiped on a goth noir lipstick to offset her angelic white gown. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "The Best Beauty Looks From the 2019 SAG Awards," 28 Jan. 2019 And in the middle, near a pile of videotapes, an old TV and bags of cheese curls, a person. Brian Seibert, New York Times, "At River to River Festival, Dancing Amid the Mundane and Majestic," 17 June 2018 Let sit until green onions crisp and curl, about 6 minutes. Sunset, "Black Rice and Asparagus with Mizuna and Mint," 22 Jan. 2018 There are smoothing creams, but will that create smooth curls or leave them flat? Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "How to Figure Out Your Curl Type and Why It Actually Helps," 14 Jan. 2019 Thanks to the different attachments, the Airwrap can be used to create all kinds of looks, from a sleek blowout to beachy waves to bouncy curls. Blake Bakkila, Good Housekeeping, "Is Dyson's New Airwrap Styler Really Worth $500? We Put It to the Test," 15 Oct. 2018 Poke 2 holes in top of pumpkin with awl; insert wire curls. Woman's Day Staff, Woman's Day, "50+ Creative Pumpkin Carving Ideas for Halloween," 25 July 2018 Cups are cut out of the sheet then enter a lip roller — imagine parallel coffee cans, spiraling fast, just barely touching — that curls the white edge of each cup in and under. Christopher Borrelli,, "That red plastic cup is a Chicago original. Proceed to party.," 29 June 2018

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

19 Feb 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 \
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

Comments on curl

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excited commotion or publicity

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