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[ker-teyl] /kərˈteɪl/
verb (used with object)
to cut short; cut off a part of; abridge; reduce; diminish.
Origin of curtail1
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English curtailen to restrict (said of royal succession or inheritance), probably a conflation of Middle French courtau(l)d (see curtal) and Middle English taillen to cut (see taille, tailor1)
Related forms
curtailedly, adverb
curtailer, noun
curtailment, noun
noncurtailing, adjective
noncurtailment, noun
uncurtailed, adjective
lessen, dock. See shorten. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for curtailment
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But, perhaps, such a sacrifice as the curtailment of your education will not be required of you.

    Nan Sherwood at Pine Camp Annie Roe Carr
  • There was a noble financial policy, a curtailment of expense.

    Mr. Crewe's Career, Complete Winston Churchill
  • Why not then stop the curtailment, and restore the exchanges to their former footing?

  • That there was no necessity for this third curtailment ordered in January.

  • But did they ever consent to a curtailment of their own rights?

  • The passion of the hour was the curtailment of the royal authority, he says.

    Talleyrand Joseph McCabe
  • They were slow to see the necessity of some form of curtailment and limitation of the traffic.

    Nonsenseorship G. G. Putnam and Others
  • Basil advises a curtailment of all expenditure for the present.

    A Romance of Billy-Goat Hill Alice Hegan Rice
  • Let us see how this will operate to the pruning and curtailment of law.

    Winterslow William Hazlitt
British Dictionary definitions for curtailment


(transitive) to cut short; abridge
Derived Forms
curtailer, noun
curtailment, noun
Word Origin
C16: changed (through influence of tail1) from obsolete curtal to dock; see curtal
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 curtailment



late 15c., from Middle French courtault "made short," from court "short" (Old French cort, from Latin curtus; see curt) + -ault pejorative suffix of Germanic origin. Originally curtal; used of horses with docked tails, which probably influenced the spelling. Related: Curtailed; curtailing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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