cur·​tail | \ (ˌ)kər-ˈtāl How to pronounce curtail (audio) \
curtailed; curtailing; curtails

Definition of curtail

transitive verb

: to make less by or as if by cutting off or away some part curtail the power of the executive branch curtail inflation Some school activities are being curtailed due to a lack of funds.

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Other Words from curtail

curtailer \ (ˌ)kər-​ˈtā-​lər How to pronounce curtailer (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for curtail

shorten, curtail, abbreviate, abridge, retrench mean to reduce in extent. shorten implies reduction in length or duration. shorten a speech curtail adds an implication of cutting that in some way deprives of completeness or adequacy. ceremonies curtailed because of rain abbreviate implies a making shorter usually by omitting some part. using an abbreviated title abridge implies a reduction in compass or scope with retention of essential elements and a relative completeness in the result. the abridged version of the novel retrench suggests a reduction in extent or costs of something felt to be excessive. declining business forced the company to retrench

Examples of curtail in a Sentence

The new laws are an effort to curtail illegal drug use. School activities are being curtailed due to a lack of funds.
Recent Examples on the Web Less profitable banks, which struggle to boost their capital buffers by retaining earnings, might opt to curtail their lending, choking off investment and growth. The Economist, "Free exchange Should the Fed cut rates below zero?," 23 May 2020 The latest effort to curtail the program centers on new regulations that were set to take effect on April 1. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, "Trump administration still wants to cut food stamps," 15 May 2020 The topic of the discussion was the taskforce’s effort to curtail animal cruelty, neglect and abuse. Roy Kent, Houston Chronicle, "Constable, Crime Stoppers discuss Houston-area animal abuse," 13 May 2020 Multiple sources have told CNN that there has been a concerted effort among Trump aides and allies to curtail his daily coronavirus briefings. Ivana Kottasová, CNN, "What you need to know about coronavirus on Saturday, April 25," 25 Apr. 2020 Bartholet’s article talks about both legislative and judicial efforts to curtail educational diversity. Fred Bauer, National Review, "Proposals to Ban Homeschooling Are an Attack on Pluralism," 20 Apr. 2020 The win was a big one for Faller’s efforts to curtail the drug trade, one of Southcom’s top regional priorities. Abraham Mahshie, Washington Examiner, "Coronavirus is rationale for more assets to military's drug-battling efforts in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific," 7 Apr. 2020 Around the country, in campaigns up and down the ballot, candidates have abandoned public events for the foreseeable future, in an effort to curtail the spread of COVID-19. Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, "The “Inequality of Pain”: West Virginia’s Gubernatorial Race Confronts the Coronavirus," 17 Mar. 2020 As officials ramp up efforts to curtail the spread of the new coronavirus, San Francisco General Hospital’s nurses and doctors fear the overcrowded and understaffed medical center is not prepared to handle an imminent local outbreak. Anna Bauman,, "SF General nurses, doctors argue hospital’s understaffing will hurt efforts to handle coronavirus outbreak," 5 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'curtail.' 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 curtail

1580, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for curtail

by folk etymology from earlier curtal to dock an animal's tail, from curtal, noun, animal with a docked tail, from Middle French courtault — more at curtal

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Time Traveler for curtail

Time Traveler

The first known use of curtail was in 1580

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Statistics for curtail

Last Updated

26 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Curtail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for curtail


How to pronounce curtail (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of curtail

formal : to reduce or limit (something)


cur·​tail | \ ˌkər-ˈtāl How to pronounce curtail (audio) \
curtailed; curtailing

Kids Definition of curtail

: to shorten or reduce by cutting off the end or a part of I had to curtail my speech.

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More from Merriam-Webster on curtail

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for curtail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with curtail

Spanish Central: Translation of curtail

Nglish: Translation of curtail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of curtail for Arabic Speakers

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