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[kurs] /kɜrs/
the expression of a wish that misfortune, evil, doom, etc., befall a person, group, etc.
a formula or charm intended to cause such misfortune to another.
the act of reciting such a formula.
a profane oath; curse word.
an evil that has been invoked upon one.
the cause of evil, misfortune, or trouble.
something accursed.
Slang. the menstrual period; menstruation (usually preceded by the).
an ecclesiastical censure or anathema.
verb (used with object), cursed or curst, cursing.
to wish or invoke evil, calamity, injury, or destruction upon.
to swear at.
to blaspheme.
to afflict with great evil.
to excommunicate.
verb (used without object), cursed or curst, cursing.
to utter curses; swear profanely.
Origin of curse
before 1050; Middle English curs (noun), cursen (v.), Old English curs (noun), cursian (v.), of disputed orig.
Related forms
curser, noun
outcurse, verb (used with object), outcursed, outcursing.
uncursing, adjective
Can be confused
coarse, course, curse, cuss.
1, 9. imprecation, execration, fulmination, malediction. 5. misfortune, calamity, trouble. 5, 6. bane, scourge, plague, affliction, torment. 10, 12. Curse, blaspheme, swear are often interchangeable in the sense of using profane language. However, curse is the general word for the heartfelt invoking or angry calling down of evil on another: They called down curses on their enemies. To blaspheme is to speak contemptuously or with abuse of God or of sacred things: to blaspheme openly. To swear is to use the name of God or of some holy person or thing as an exclamation to add force or show anger: to swear in every sentence. 13. plague, scourge, afflict, doom.
1, 9. blessing, benediction. 10. bless. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for cursing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You had needs laugh with him, and he, cursing high and low, beamed all over his face.

    Little Novels of Italy Maurice Henry Hewlett
  • "I'm just cursing myself for being a fool," Turnbull said sheepishly.

    Dead Giveaway Gordon Randall Garrett
  • The man whom Hunterleys and Mr. Grex were tying up was still groaning and cursing.

    Mr. Grex of Monte Carlo E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • I reckon he's cursing his luck at having to heave-to and lose this wind.

  • cursing his ill-luck, he resolved to reach the Altenfjord by land, and began to make arrangements accordingly.

    Thelma Marie Corelli
British Dictionary definitions for cursing


a profane or obscene expression of anger, disgust, surprise, etc; oath
an appeal to a supernatural power for harm to come to a specific person, group, etc
harm resulting from an appeal to a supernatural power: to be under a curse
something that brings or causes great trouble or harm
a saying, charm, effigy, etc, used to invoke a curse
an ecclesiastical censure of excommunication
(informal) the curse, menstruation or a menstrual period
verb curses, cursing, cursed, (archaic) curst
(intransitive) to utter obscenities or oaths
(transitive) to abuse (someone) with obscenities or oaths
(transitive) to invoke supernatural powers to bring harm to (someone or something)
(transitive) to bring harm upon
(transitive) another word for excommunicate
Derived Forms
curser, noun
Word Origin
Old English cursian to curse, from curs a curse
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 cursing



late Old English curs "a prayer that evil or harm befall one," of uncertain origin, perhaps from Old French curuz "anger," or Latin cursus "course." Connection with cross is unlikely. No similar word exists in Germanic, Romance, or Celtic. Curses as a histrionic exclamation is from 1885. The curse "menstruation" is from 1930. Curse of Scotland, the 9 of diamonds in cards, is attested from 1791, but the origin is obscure.


Old English cursian, from the source of curse (n.). Meaning "to swear profanely" is from early 13c. Related: Cursed; cursing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cursing in the Bible

denounced by God against the serpent (Gen. 3:14), and against Cain (4:11). These divine maledictions carried their effect with them. Prophetical curses were sometimes pronounced by holy men (Gen. 9:25; 49:7; Deut. 27:15; Josh. 6:26). Such curses are not the consequence of passion or revenge, they are predictions. No one on pain of death shall curse father or mother (Ex. 21:17), nor the prince of his people (22:28), nor the deaf (Lev. 19:14). Cursing God or blaspheming was punishable by death (Lev. 24:10-16). The words "curse God and die" (R.V., "renounce God and die"), used by Job's wife (Job 2:9), have been variously interpreted. Perhaps they simply mean that as nothing but death was expected, God would by this cursing at once interpose and destroy Job, and so put an end to his sufferings.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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