cur·​tain | \ ˈkər-tᵊn How to pronounce curtain (audio) \

Definition of curtain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a hanging screen usually capable of being drawn back or up especially : window drapery
2 : a device or agency that conceals or acts as a barrier — compare iron curtain
3a : the part of a bastioned front that connects two neighboring bastions
b(1) : a similar stretch of plain wall
(2) : a nonbearing exterior wall
4a : the movable screen separating the stage from the auditorium of a theater
b : the ascent or opening (as at the beginning of a play) of a stage curtain also : its descent or closing (as at the end of an act)
c : the final situation, line, or scene of an act or play
d : the time at which a theatrical performance begins
e curtains plural : end especially : death it will be curtains for us if we're caught


curtained; curtaining\ ˈkərt-​niŋ How to pronounce curtaining (audio) , -​ˈkər-​tᵊn-​iŋ \

Definition of curtain (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to furnish with or as if with curtains
2 : to veil or shut off with or as if with a curtain

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Other Words from curtain


curtainless \ ˈkər-​tᵊn-​ləs How to pronounce curtainless (audio) \ adjective

Examples of curtain in a Sentence

Noun Curtains separated the hospital beds. When the curtain rises after intermission, the set is bare and the main character finds himself alone. As the curtain falls for the last time, we see a young woman holding a dying man in her arms. Verb she dropped her head and in shame curtained her face with her hair
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Just know that behind the curtain of government, hospitals and first responders there are heroes going above and beyond daily. Claire Goodman, Houston Chronicle, "SUNDAY CONVERSATION: Chambers of commerce presidents on business during pandemic," 12 Apr. 2020 Behind the curtain there are those Soros-like types who meddle in some countries. New York Times, "From Prominent Turkish Philanthropist to Political Prisoner," 9 Apr. 2020 Perhaps because of the man-behind-the-curtain mystique of their trade, movie directors have never been eager writers of memoirs or autobiographies. Peter Tonguette, WSJ, "‘Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother’ Review: The Director as Nervous Wreck," 20 Mar. 2020 But on Wednesday, Bloomberg will have to come out from behind the curtain and face the competitors keen to take him on. Kendall Karson, ABC News, "Democrats set to clash at Las Vegas debate with Bloomberg in their sights," 19 Feb. 2020 The wizard behind the curtain of all that paid media, however, has been far less visible to the public. Michael Scherer, Anchorage Daily News, "Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg qualifies for Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate," 19 Feb. 2020 The figure of the Jew in the anti-Semitic imagination typically presents as the éminence grise—the shadow behind the throne, the puppeteer behind the curtain. Talia Lavin, The New Republic, "To Dream of a Jewish President," 13 Feb. 2020 The union leader added that shower curtains, saran wrap and plastic are being used to divide work stations. Ben Tobin, The Courier-Journal, "GE Appliances workers return after protest, say plant still a coronavirus 'time bomb'," 30 Mar. 2020 And each bed has its own room with a door, not a curtain, unlike many hospitals. Kevin Mccoy And Katie Wedell, USA TODAY, "'On-the-job emergency training': Hospitals may run low on staff to run ventilators for coronavirus patients," 27 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb It has been shown without being curtained off and with no warning signs. Deborah Martin,, "Removal of video from exhibit at San Antonio’s Centro de Artes gallery sparks cries of censorship," 21 Feb. 2020 Five women organize an astonishing array of costumes, tap shoes and feather boas into small, curtained-off, makeshift dressing rooms backstage. New York Times, "Out of the Spotlight, Still a Star: The ‘Backstage Diva’," 12 Mar. 2020 During a session, you are taken to a small curtained-off room and tucked in to a sleeping bag that serves as an infrared sauna, and monitored by attendants as the bag gets warmer and warmer, raising your heart rate and causing you to sweat. Grace Gavilanes,, "21 Wellness, Fitness & Feel-Good Events and Products We're Loving Right Now," 17 Dec. 2019 The upper bowl was curtained off, and there were pockets of empty seats in the lower bowl, and plenty of elbow room in the large pit around the stage. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Dirt bikes and pyro can't save the Chainsmokers' mindless Milwaukee show, but 5 Seconds of Summer a blast," 13 Nov. 2019 Which explains why the 300-level of Moda Center was curtained-off on Tuesday, and why there were still lots of empty seats. John Canzano | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Canzano: Final Four plans hatched high above the Oregon and Oregon State basketball," 13 Nov. 2019 During the cocktail hour that followed, the site of the ceremony was curtained off so it could be transformed into a space for a formal dinner to be served. Nancy Kruh,, "They're Married! Chris Lane and Lauren Bushnell Wed After Whirlwind Engagement — All the Details," 25 Oct. 2019 On Wednesday, the entrance to the building was curtained and blocked off with two large potted plants; a doorman greeted residents at a side door. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Car smashes into lobby of Trump Plaza in NYC suburb," 18 Sep. 2019 Her attic apartment, upstairs from Mary, is hung with fabrics and curtained with beads, furnished with a lamp made from a wicker seamstress’ dummy and a single-girl’s refrigerator. Los Angeles Times, "Appreciation: With Rhoda Morgenstern, Valerie Harper made the sidekick a star," 31 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'curtain.' 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 curtain


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for curtain


Middle English curtine, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin cortina (translation of Greek aulaia, from aulē court), from Latin cohort-, cohors enclosure, court — more at court

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Time Traveler for curtain

Time Traveler

The first known use of curtain was in the 14th century

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Statistics for curtain

Last Updated

3 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Curtain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for curtain


How to pronounce curtain (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of curtain

: a piece of cloth that hangs down from above a window and can be used to cover the window
: a piece of cloth or other material that is hung to protect or hide something
: a very large piece of cloth that hangs at the front of a stage and that is raised when a performance begins and lowered when a performance ends


cur·​tain | \ ˈkər-tᵊn How to pronounce curtain (audio) \

Kids Definition of curtain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a piece of material (as cloth) hung up to darken, hide, divide, or decorate
2 : something that covers, hides, or separates like a curtain a curtain of fog


curtained; curtaining

Kids Definition of curtain (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to furnish with cloth that darkens, hides, divides, or decorates
2 : to hide or shut off

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