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  1. Archaic. wearing a short frock: a curtal friar.
  2. Obsolete. brief; curtailed.
  1. a 16th-century bassoon.
  2. Obsolete. an animal with a docked tail.

Origin of curtal

1500–10; earlier courtault < Middle French, equivalent to court short (see curt) + -ault, variant of -ald noun suffix; see ribald
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for curtal

Historical Examples

  • Now I may go in and out as I will, being a curtal friar and not now remembered in these parts.

    Robin Hood

    Paul Creswick

  • Curtal, kur′tal, n. a horse with a curt or docked tail: anything docked or cut short.

  • Item, double trottynge hors, called a curtal, for his lordship to ryde on out of townes.

    Ten Thousand Wonderful Things

    Edmund Fillingham King

  • Curtal is a small horse; properly one who hath his tail docked or curtailed.

  • "I am but a poor anchorite, a curtal friar," replied the other, pushing out for his side of the river.

    Robin Hood

    Paul Creswick

British Dictionary definitions for curtal


  1. cut short
  2. (of friars) wearing a short frock
  1. an animal whose tail has been docked
  2. something that is cut short

Word Origin

C16: from Old French courtault animal whose tail has been docked, from court short, from Latin curtus; see curt
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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