[ kur-fyoo ]
/ ˈkɜr fyu /


Origin of curfew

1250–1300; Middle English < Anglo-French coverfeu, Old French covrefeu literally, (it) covers (the) fire. See cover, focus Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for curfew

British Dictionary definitions for curfew


/ (ˈkɜːfjuː) /


an official regulation setting restrictions on movement, esp after a specific time at night
the time set as a deadline by such a regulation
(in medieval Europe)
  1. the ringing of a bell to prompt people to extinguish fires and lights
  2. the time at which the curfew bell was rung
  3. the bell itself

Word Origin for curfew

C13: from Old French cuevrefeu, literally: cover the fire
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

Word Origin and History for curfew



early 14c., "evening signal, ringing of a bell at a fixed hour," from Anglo-French coeverfu (late 13c.), from Old French cuevrefeu, literally "cover fire" (Modern French couvre-few), from cuevre, imperative of covrir "to cover" (see cover (v.)) + feu "fire" (see focus (n.)). The medieval practice of ringing a bell at fixed time in the evening as an order to bank the hearths and prepare for sleep. The original purpose was to prevent conflagrations from untended fires. The modern extended sense of "periodic restriction of movement" had evolved by 1800s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper