Synonyms & Antonyms of curtail

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About curtail

How is the word curtail different from other verbs like it?

Some common synonyms of curtail are abbreviate, abridge, retrench, and shorten. While all these words mean "to reduce in extent," curtail adds an implication of cutting that in some way deprives of completeness or adequacy.

ceremonies curtailed because of rain

When is abbreviate a more appropriate choice than curtail?

The synonyms abbreviate and curtail are sometimes interchangeable, but abbreviate implies a making shorter usually by omitting some part.

using an abbreviated title

Where would abridge be a reasonable alternative to curtail?

The words abridge and curtail are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, 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

When might retrench be a better fit than curtail?

The words retrench and curtail can be used in similar contexts, but retrench suggests a reduction in extent or costs of something felt to be excessive.

declining business forced the company to retrench

When would shorten be a good substitute for curtail?

The meanings of shorten and curtail largely overlap; however, shorten implies reduction in length or duration.

shorten a speech

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about curtail

Time Traveler for curtail

Time Traveler

The first known use of curtail was in 1580

See more words from the same year

Cite this Entry

“Curtail.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on curtail

Dictionary: Definition 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).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!