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 Some of them with rights claims predating 1914, the year California enacted its water rights law, say the State Water Resources Control Board lacks authority to curtail them and sued over the issue during the last punishing drought. Ari Plachta, Los Angeles Times, 29 Aug. 2021 There’s no sense of when things are going to curtail themselves. Patricia Mazzei, New York Times, 23 July 2021 As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden explicitly campaigned against President Trump’s exclusionary immigration policies, condemning his efforts to ban Muslim immigrants, curtail refugee resettlement and separate families at the Southern border., 19 Aug. 2021 Since last month, Japan has been extending and expanding stringent preventive measures that aim to curtail the spread of the virus in the most affected regions. Washington Post, 19 Aug. 2021 But the Biden administration has said the emergency policy, which is authorized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is still needed to reduce overcrowding inside migrant holding sites and curtail the spread of the coronavirus. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, 24 Aug. 2021 DeWine recommended that local school districts consider face mask mandates, at least on a temporary basis, to curtail the spread of the more-contagious delta variant. Evan Macdonald, cleveland, 17 Aug. 2021 But the coronavirus recession featured massive, abrupt declines as state governments ordered businesses to shut down to curtail the spread of the virus, and a huge early rebound as states began gradually reopening their economies. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, 19 July 2021 Someone like former President Donald Trump — who has claimed credit for the rapid development of the vaccines — could help curtail hesitancy by asking his supporters to get inoculated, Wolfson said. Monivette Cordeiro,, 23 July 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

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The first known use of curtail was in 1580

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Last Updated

2 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Curtail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for curtail



English Language Learners Definition of curtail

: 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on curtail

Nglish: Translation of curtail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of curtail for Arabic Speakers


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