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.

Other Words from curtail

curtailer \ (ˌ)kər-​ˈtā-​lər How to pronounce curtail (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 Republicans have slammed the move as hypocritical, noting that Biden has sought to curtail oil and gas drilling on federal lands and waters as part of his broader climate agenda. Maxine Joselow,, 24 Nov. 2021 Tagovailoa said injuries do not curtail his desire to play. Mark Inabinett |, al, 16 Nov. 2021 The way to curtail it is to examine it clearly, explore the ugly sides of it and the noble sides — and there are both. Stuart Miller, Los Angeles Times, 10 Nov. 2021 The Taliban have also sought to curtail protests, and a statement issued by the Taliban interior ministry last week set out strict conditions for any future demonstrations, including prior approval from the Ministry of Justice. Sarah Dean, CNN, 14 Sep. 2021 French President Emmanuel Macron and other French authorities have increasingly sought to curtail the display of religious symbols amid a campaign to assert the country’s secular state. Laurence Norman, WSJ, 15 July 2021 Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions sought to curtail the use of consent decrees under the Trump administration, which did not enter a single decree in its four years. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, 16 Apr. 2021 And the private school provision materialized even after House Democrats expressly sought to curtail such funding by effectively capping coronavirus relief for private education in the bill at about $200 million. New York Times, 13 Mar. 2021 The Fed lowers interest rates to stimulate borrowing and jump-start economic activity and raises them to curtail growth and head off a spike in inflation. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, 2 Nov. 2021

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

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The first known use of curtail was in 1580

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Last Updated

1 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Curtail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for curtail



English Language Learners Definition of curtail

: 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on curtail

Nglish: Translation of curtail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of curtail for Arabic Speakers


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