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[kur-fyoo] /ˈkɜr fyu/
an order establishing a specific time in the evening after which certain regulations apply, especially that no civilians or other specified group of unauthorized persons may be outdoors or that places of public assembly must be closed.
a regulation requiring a person to be home at a certain prescribed time, as imposed by a parent on a child.
the time at which a daily curfew starts.
the period during which a curfew is in effect.
a signal, usually made with a bell, announcing the start of the time of restrictions under a curfew.
a bell for sounding a curfew.
(in medieval Europe) the ringing of a bell at a fixed hour in the evening as a signal for covering or extinguishing fires.
a metal cover for shielding a banked or unattended fire.
Origin of curfew
1250-1300; Middle English < Anglo-French coverfeu, Old French covrefeu literally, (it) covers (the) fire. See cover, focus Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for curfew


an official regulation setting restrictions on movement, esp after a specific time at night
the time set as a deadline by such a regulation
(in medieval Europe)
  1. the ringing of a bell to prompt people to extinguish fires and lights
  2. the time at which the curfew bell was rung
  3. the bell itself
Word Origin
C13: from Old French cuevrefeu, literally: cover the fire
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for curfew

early 14c., "evening signal, ringing of a bell at a fixed hour," from Anglo-French coeverfu (late 13c.), from Old French cuevrefeu, literally "cover fire" (Modern French couvre-few), from cuevre, imperative of covrir "to cover" (see cover (v.)) + feu "fire" (see focus (n.)). The medieval practice of ringing a bell at fixed time in the evening as an order to bank the hearths and prepare for sleep. The original purpose was to prevent conflagrations from untended fires. The modern extended sense of "periodic restriction of movement" had evolved by 1800s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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