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 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 But arresting and jailing people living on the street doesn’t measurably curtail crime, the analysis found. Melissa Lewis, oregonlive, "Booking homeless Portlanders into jail is endless, expensive cycle that arrests don’t curb, but housing does," 25 Oct. 2020 Greek schools have shut, reopened, and closed again over the past year as authorities sought to curtail the spread of the virus. Elena Becatoros, Star Tribune, "DIY education: Greek teacher creates TV classes for inmates," 19 Mar. 2021 Big outfits, like Jefferson Regional Medical Center and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and even the new addition to the family, Saracen Casino Resort, had to close or curtail their operations. Arkansas Online, "OPINION | EDITORIAL: Just the answers please," 6 Mar. 2021 Greek schools have shut, reopened, and closed again over the past year as authorities sought to curtail the spread of the virus. Elena Becatoros, The Christian Science Monitor, "Teacher in Greece offers hope to inmates through TV classes," 18 Feb. 2021 Our job is to try and curtail the spread of this new variant in Michigan. John Wisely, Detroit Free Press, "Vitti urges Whitmer to resume winter contact sports in Michigan schools," 25 Jan. 2021 That crisis and its aftermath, including Twitter’s decision to ban Trump from his signature social media account, should spur a European move to curtail the influence of the major tech platforms, according to von der Leyen. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "Europe hopes for ‘magic force’ in Biden’s presidency," 20 Jan. 2021 The Warriors announce plans to play the Nets in front of no fans at Chase Center to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus. Connor Letourneau,, "Warriors’ game vs. Suns postponed due to coronavirus contact tracing," 13 Jan. 2021 Allocate federal resources to help curtail violence against transgender people, particularly transgender women of color. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Biden plans swift moves to protect and advance LGBTQ rights," 28 Nov. 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

5 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Curtail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for curtail



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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Comments on curtail

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