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 In recent years, Ruckelshaus joined other former EPA directors in championing the agency against cuts or efforts to curtail its authority. Gene Johnson,, "William Ruckelshaus, who defied Nixon in Watergate firing, dies," 27 Nov. 2019 Communications have been suspended, politicians have been jailed and civil rights curtailed, leading to fears for ordinary Kashmiris. Tara John, CNN, "Hardline Hindus are pushing the Indian government's agenda on British voters," 26 Nov. 2019 But some local officials believe the backdoor efforts to curtail single-family zoning will spark a backlash, especially as state officials continue to take aim at local housing development regulations. Los Angeles Times, "How lawmakers are upending the California lifestyle to fight a housing shortage," 10 Oct. 2019 Pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong have spent months protesting the mainland’s efforts to curtail the city-state’s liberal and quasi-democratic system. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Liberalism Is at a Crossroads, Not a Dead End," 12 Sep. 2019 In an effort to curtail e-cigarette use among young people, officials are urging the FDA to strengthen its authority over the vaping industry. Kate Thayer,, "After a 6th death related to a mystery vaping illness, here are 5 things to know about the e-cigarette trend and the current health scare," 11 Sep. 2019 DeWeese is the only commissioner who has spoken against the city's efforts to curtail public debate on the NOW project. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "Silenced Birmingham residents finally get their moment to speak. Here's what happened.," 6 Aug. 2019 Prosecutors said that in calls with the publisher of Yediot Ahronot, one of Israel’s biggest newspapers, Mr. Netanyahu offered to press a competing newspaper, Israel Hayom, to curtail its free circulation, which was undercutting Yediot financially. New York Times, "Israel’s Netanyahu Indicted on Charges of Fraud, Bribery and Breach of Trust," 21 Nov. 2019 Malone did his best to jolt his team’s lackluster offense with new rotations, but early minutes for Michael Porter Jr. and Juancho Hernangomez did nothing to curtail the Nets’ scoring. Mike Singer, The Denver Post, "Second-half rally saves Nuggets in comeback win over Nets," 14 Nov. 2019

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

9 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Curtail.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 15 December 2019.

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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

Comments on curtail

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delight or enjoyment

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