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90s Slang You Should Know


[kurl] /kɜrl/
verb (used with object)
to form into coils or ringlets, as the hair.
to form into a spiral or curved shape; coil.
to adorn with, or as with, curls or ringlets.
verb (used without object)
to grow in or form curls or ringlets, as the hair.
to become curved or undulated.
to coil.
to play at the game of curling.
to progress in a curving direction or path; move in a curving or spiraling way:
The ball curled toward the plate.
a coil or ringlet of hair.
anything of a spiral or curved shape, as a lettuce leaf, wood shaving, etc.
a coil.
the act of curling or state of being curled.
Plant Pathology.
  1. the distortion, fluting, or puffing of a leaf, resulting from the unequal development of its two sides.
  2. a disease so characterized.
Also called rotation. Mathematics.
  1. a vector obtained from a given vector by taking its cross product with the vector whose coordinates are the partial derivative operators with respect to each coordinate.
  2. the operation that produces this vector.
  1. an underhand forearm lift in which the barbell, held against the thighs, is raised to the chest and then lowered while keeping the legs, upper arms, and shoulders taut.
  2. a similar forearm lift using a dumbbell or dumbbells, usually from the side of the body to the shoulders.
Verb phrases
curl up, to sit or lie down cozily:
to curl up with a good book.
curl one's lip, to assume or display an expression of contempt:
He curled his lip in disdain.
curl one's / the hair, to fill with horror or fright; shock:
Some of his stories about sailing across the Atlantic are enough to curl one's hair.
Origin of curl
1400-50; late Middle English, apparently back formation from curled, metathetic variant of Middle English crulled (past participle) crul (adj.); compare Middle Dutch crullen to curl, cruller
Related forms
[kur-lid-lee, kurld-] /ˈkɜr lɪd li, ˈkɜrld-/ (Show IPA),
curledness, noun
intercurl, verb
undercurl, noun
undercurl, verb
well-curled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for curl up
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And he released his hold upon the chart, allowing the corner he had been holding to spring back and curl up.

    A Middy of the King Harry Collingwood
  • "I'll just curl up in this old coat and rest a bit," she thought.

    At the Little Brown House Ruth Alberta Brown
  • They then expand quickly, curl up in shreds, and deliquesce into a black inky fluid which stains the ground.

    Mushroom Culture W. Robinson
  • They curl up their legs, draw down their antennæ, and drop to the ground.

    The Dawn of Reason James Weir
  • It will first of all curl up, but afterward lay flat and limp.

    Photogravure Henry R. Blaney
  • You have only to stand up to them, and they curl up like mongrel curs.

    Ireland as It Is Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
British Dictionary definitions for curl up

curl up

verb (adverb)
(intransitive) to adopt a reclining position with the legs close to the body and the back rounded
to become or cause to become spiral-shaped or curved
(intransitive) to retire to a quiet cosy setting: to curl up with a good novel
(Brit, informal) to be or cause to be embarrassed or disgusted (esp in the phrase curl up and die)


(intransitive) (esp of hair) to grow into curves or ringlets
(transitive) sometimes foll by up. to twist or roll (something, esp hair) into coils or ringlets
(often foll by up) to become or cause to become spiral-shaped or curved; coil: the heat made the leaves curl up
(intransitive) to move in a curving or twisting manner
(intransitive) to play the game of curling
curl one's lip, to show contempt, as by raising a corner of the lip
a curve or coil of hair
a curved or spiral shape or mark, as in wood
the act of curling or state of being curled
any of various plant diseases characterized by curling of the leaves
(maths) Also called rot, rotation. a vector quantity associated with a vector field that is the vector product of the operator ∇ and a vector function A, where ∇ = i∂/∂x + j∂/∂by + k∂/∂z,i, j, and k being unit vectors. Usually written curl A, rot A Compare divergence (sense 4), gradient (sense 4)
See also curl up
Word Origin
C14: probably from Middle Dutch crullen to curl; related to Middle High German krol curly, Middle Low German krūs curly
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 curl up



mid-15c., metathesis of crulle (c.1300), probably from an unrecorded Old English word or from Middle Dutch krul "curly," from Proto-Germanic *krusl- (cf. East Frisian krull "lock of hair," Middle High German krol, Norwegian krull, Danish krølle "curl"). The noun is recorded from c.1600.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with curl up

curl up

Assume a position with the legs drawn up; settle down for sleep in this posture. For example, I love to curl up with a good book. [ c. 1900 ]
curl up and die. Retreat, collapse, die, as in At first the horse was ahead but in the home stretch she curled up and died, or I'll just curl up and die if he shows up. This colorful expression for collapsing or dying is often used hyperbolically (second example). [ Early 1900s ]
curl someone up. Kill someone, as in The sheriff said he'd curl up that outlaw. This usage originated as cowboy slang in the second half of the 1800s.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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