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 In the gallery, viewers encounter a defunct pay phone replicated from fragments of wood and a decorative metal curlicue. Danielle Avram, Dallas News, "Dallas artist Vince Jones breathes new life into found objects with creative mashups," 7 Apr. 2021 But the only piece of aluminum on the 1971 lemon pig is its curlicue tail. Scottie Andrew, CNN, "Want good luck in the new year? Make yourself a lemon pig," 31 Dec. 2020 All three drinks are topped with a splash of Topo Chico and served in disposable cups rimmed with Chamoy and chile along with a fruity garnish and playful curlicue straw. Paul Stephen,, "Embrace the boozy aguas frescas at downtown San Antonio bar Tony’s Siesta," 29 Dec. 2020 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

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

Last Updated

16 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Curlicue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for curlicue



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

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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