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

The problem, other analysts worry, is that giving Venezuela the designation means America will curtail its ability to help the millions of citizens suffering from disease and malnutrition under Maduro’s rule. Alex Ward, Vox, "The US may name Venezuela as a state sponsor of terrorism. Here’s why that could backfire.," 20 Nov. 2018 All of these emergency measures work quite well for me and have curtailed attacks within a few minutes. Korin Miller, SELF, "7 People Describe What an Asthma Attack Actually Feels Like," 14 Nov. 2018 If tariffs curtail bourbon consumption in those markets abroad, the industry could be left with some sobering consequences — a flood of whiskey to sell by trying to boost sales in the U.S. and in countries unaffected by trade disputes. Bruce Schreiner, Fox News, "Kentucky bourbon inventory at highest level since 1972," 27 Sep. 2018 However, many voices in the security sector have fired back that curtailing screenings at smaller airports only increases the risk of such flights becoming targets for terrorist attacks. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "The TSA's Proposal to Stop Security Screenings at Small Airports Has Experts Nervous," 2 Aug. 2018 The high-stakes presidential contest and a parliamentary election also held Sunday were set to either consolidate Erdogan’s grip on power or curtail his vast political ambitions. Suzan Fraser, Elene Becatoros, Time, "Partial Results Show Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Leading in Country's Elections," 24 June 2018 The statement made no mention of growing U.S. trade skirmishes, which some economists say could curtail growth, of a stronger dollar that could hurt U.S. exports. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Fed decision: Federal Reserve hikes rates to range of 1.75% to 2%, ups forecast to 4 hikes in '18," 13 June 2018 As acting attorney general, Whitaker will have power to oversee, curtail, or even shut down the investigation. Rachel Withers, Vox, "Trump really wants you to think he doesn’t know Whitaker," 10 Nov. 2018 And the impact on all sectors of the province has been huge.’’ The total number of visitors allowed on the island—once more than two million a year—has been curtailed. Jake Maxwell Watts, WSJ, "Paradise Regained as Boracay Gets Ready to Party On," 26 Oct. 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

9 Dec 2018

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).


to make faulty or ineffective

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