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 They would be targeted for harassment, as practically anyone taking a controversial stand today is, and many would curtail their associations with groups that file amicus briefs. David B. Rivkin Jr. And Andrew M. Grossman, WSJ, "Sheldon Whitehouse Is No Friend of the Courts," 29 Apr. 2021 The pause did not severely curtail vaccination efforts in California because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine made up such a small percentage of overall vaccine supply in the state. Catherine Ho, San Francisco Chronicle, "Federal panel lifts Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause, Bay Area may resume one-dose shots soon," 23 Apr. 2021 Under Wednesday's order, the state Water Resources Control Board power can curtail water rights in those counties if major users do not voluntarily begin to conserve. Fox News, "California Gov. Gavin Newsom declares drought emergency in 2 counties," 22 Apr. 2021 But in all three cases, these weren’t products which, by their announcement, would curtail sales of existing models. David Phelan, Forbes, "AirPods 3 Could Be Apple’s Surprise Announcement, But There’s A Catch," 21 Apr. 2021 The move comes as vocal segments of her party are pushing dozens of bills to curtail rights for transgender people across the nation. Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times, "Caitlyn Jenner announces run for California governor in recall election," 23 Apr. 2021 Over the course of the pandemic, most of the 400 clubs that USA Judo sanctions across the country were forced to close or severely curtail operations. Eddie Pells, Star Tribune, "Gold-medal project: Judo seeks solutions in police training," 22 Apr. 2021 The party’s appeal is built in part on the fiction that Second Amendment rights are absolute, and that any attempt to curtail them — say, to ban guns designed solely for mowing down crowds — is tyranny., "For too many of us, living in this country is like living in a state of war," 17 Apr. 2021 Lightfoot also has not yet put forward a plan to end or significantly curtail the long-standing practice that allows Chicago aldermen to hold sway over zoning matters in their individual wards. Gregory Pratt,, "2 years after her election, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot hasn’t yet fulfilled key campaign promises," 2 Apr. 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

Time Traveler

The first known use of curtail was in 1580

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Statistics for curtail

Last Updated

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Curtail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 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.

Comments on curtail

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