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[kur-loo] /ˈkɜr lu/
any of several shorebirds of the genus Numenius, having a long, slender, downcurved bill, as the common N. arquata, of Europe.
any of various similar birds.
Origin of curlew
1300-50; Middle English < Anglo-French curleu, cognate with Middle French corleu; perhaps imitative Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for curlew
Historical Examples
  • At that instant the curlew shot over her head with its deep, mournful cry.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine
  • "The curlew" dashed forward, rising and falling with the swells.

    Left on Labrador

    Charles Asbury Stephens
  • It was at once set; and "The curlew" started on in the wake of the shower.

    Left on Labrador

    Charles Asbury Stephens
  • It ain't as if 'The curlew' was loaded down, and lay low in the water.

    Left on Labrador

    Charles Asbury Stephens
  • Then silence again, save for the long-drawn wail of a curlew.

    The Call Of The South Louis Becke
  • And afar off a curlew called, and a grouse crowed in defiance.

    The Wind Bloweth

    Brian Oswald Donn-Byrne
  • She addressed the skipper of the curlew as he brought his craft alongside.

    El Diablo Brayton Norton
  • "I can't understand what is keeping the boys from the curlew," she said.

    El Diablo Brayton Norton
  • Behind him were Hawkins, Bronson and the crew of the curlew.

    El Diablo Brayton Norton
  • As the curlew made ready to get under way, Hawkins appeared at the rail.

    El Diablo Brayton Norton
British Dictionary definitions for curlew


any large shore bird of the genus Numenius, such as N. arquata of Europe and Asia: family Scolopacidae (sandpipers, etc), order Charadriiformes. They have a long downward-curving bill and occur in northern and arctic regions Compare stone curlew
Word Origin
C14: from Old French corlieu, perhaps of imitative origin
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 curlew

mid-14c., from Old French courlieu (13c., Modern French courlis), said to be imitative of the bird's cry but apparently assimilated with corliu "runner, messenger," from corre "to run" (see current (adj.)). The bird is a good runner.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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