cur·​tail | \ (ˌ)kər-ˈtāl \
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 \ 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

When pathogens and pests are caught quickly, destruction can be significantly curtailed. Henry Robertson, Popular Mechanics, "An App Could Be the Key to Saving Crops from Pests and Pathogens," 4 Dec. 2018 But after that, Republicans also started to focus on early voting with their supporters (or, in some circumstances, tried to curtail early voting in different states). Emily Stewart, Vox, "Early voting is surging in Texas. That might be good news for Beto O’Rourke.," 4 Nov. 2018 Mr Trump’s trade policy is already unpopular among Republicans in Congress, some of whom are trying to curtail the president’s power to act unilaterally on trade. The Economist, "America’s allies should stand up to its reckless trade policy," 7 June 2018 Such trading had been curtailed by the Volcker Rule, which required banks to show regulators specifically how each trade acts as a hedge against specific risks. Author: Emily Flitter, Alan Rappeport, Anchorage Daily News, "Big banks will get a reprieve from a key crisis-era rule that would let them engage in riskier trading," 30 May 2018 That had been curtailed by the People’s Bank of China., "Mastercard Profit Boosted by Card Customers Traveling Abroad," 2 May 2018 Over the past decade, the Texas prison system has sharply curtailed its use of isolation, reducing its use of administrative segregation by roughly 4,000 prisoners, and eliminating the use of solitary confinement for punitive reasons altogether. Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle, "After ‘slavery’ in prison, exoneree explains how to end solitary confinement on Texas death row," 26 Apr. 2018 Protections for medical marijuana remain in effect under a piece of the federal spending law that prevents federal authorities from trying to curtail that aspect of the industry. Jon Schuppe, NBC News, "Justice Department’s policy shift may slow booming pot industry," 6 Jan. 2018 Experts look to Michigan and Wisconsin to show how curtailing the power of public-sector unions can shift political winds., "Unions brace for loss of members and fees in wake of Supreme Court ruling," 28 June 2018

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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Statistics for curtail

Last Updated

7 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for curtail

The first known use of curtail was in 1580

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More Definitions for curtail



English Language Learners Definition of curtail

: to reduce or limit (something)


cur·​tail | \ ˌkər-ˈtāl \
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with curtail

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for curtail

Spanish Central: Translation of curtail

Nglish: Translation of curtail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of curtail for Arabic Speakers

Comments on curtail

What made you want to look up curtail? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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