curtail

play
verb cur·tail \(ˌ)kər-ˈtāl\

Definition of curtail

  1. transitive verb
  2. :  to make less by or as if by cutting off or away some part <curtail the power of the executive branch> <curtail inflation>

curtailer

play \-ˈtā-lər\ noun

Examples of curtail in a sentence

  1. The new laws are an effort to curtail illegal drug use.

  2. School activities are being curtailed due to a lack of funds.

Origin and Etymology of 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


First Known Use: 1580

Synonym Discussion of 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>.

CURTAIL Defined for English Language Learners

curtail

play
verb cur·tail \(ˌ)kər-ˈtāl\

Definition of curtail for English Language Learners

  • : to reduce or limit (something)


CURTAIL Defined for Kids

curtail

play
verb cur·tail \ˌkər-ˈtāl\

Definition of curtail for Students

curtailed

curtailing

  1. :  to shorten or reduce by cutting off the end or a part of <I had to curtail my speech.>



Seen and Heard

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to search out and expose misconduct

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • alphabet-magnets
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ