View synonyms for curfew


[ kur-fyoo ]


  1. an order establishing a specific time in the evening after which certain regulations apply, especially that no civilians or other specified group of unauthorized persons may be outdoors or that places of public assembly must be closed.
  2. a regulation requiring a person to be home at a certain prescribed time, as imposed by a parent on a child.
  3. the time at which a daily curfew starts.
  4. the period during which a curfew is in effect.
  5. a signal, usually made with a bell, announcing the start of the time of restrictions under a curfew.
  6. a bell for sounding a curfew.
  7. (in medieval Europe) the ringing of a bell at a fixed hour in the evening as a signal for covering or extinguishing fires.
  8. a metal cover for shielding a banked or unattended fire.


/ ˈkɜːfjuː /


  1. an official regulation setting restrictions on movement, esp after a specific time at night
  2. the time set as a deadline by such a regulation
  3. 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

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Word History and Origins

Origin of curfew1

1250–1300; Middle English < Anglo-French coverfeu, Old French covrefeu literally, (it) covers (the) fire. See cover, focus

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Word History and Origins

Origin of curfew1

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

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Example Sentences

“The United States, which has always promoted democracy and human rights, has become a country of riots, conflict and curfew,” said one recent video featuring clips from the attack on the Capitol that resulted in five deaths.

California lifted stay-at-home orders and curfews last week after alarmingly high hospitalizations dipped, while New York is on track to resume indoor dining by Valentine’s Day.

The spike in riders came even as Metro closed three hours early on Wednesday because of the violence at the Capitol and curfews issued.

Hours after a mob of hundreds of men and women broke into the Capitol building, groups of people were arrested for violating curfew and refusing to leave the grounds of the building.

The curfew is part of what Premier François Legault is calling “electroshock therapy” for the province

From Eater

A nighttime curfew that was imposed a few weeks ago seems barely enforced now—no doubt to the relief of the women at the Ramada.

On Friday afternoon, I stood by the Burger King checking the bars on my phone like a kid with a curfew.

The city of Miran Shah, for example, was subjected to a nighttime curfew for years.

Nixon said the curfew is necessary, despite the efforts of some Ferguson residents to prevent looting.

And so swift was the imposition of the curfew that some foreigners were taken by surprise.

The last slave had been immured within its walls, and St. Michael's curfew was to be sweetest music thenceforth and forever.

We took tea at six or half past six o'clock, and the curfew ringing at nine found us preparing for bed.

The time when this ought to be done, was signified by the ringing of a bell, called therefore the curfew bell, or ignitegium.

The ringing of a bell in the evening is in many places till called ringing the Curfew Bell.

It made me think of that gal when she spoke ‘Curfew shall not ring tewnight’ at the schoolhouse.


Related Words

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More About Curfew

What does curfew mean?

A curfew is a specific time of day at which, by rule, you must be at home. It can also refer to the rule itself, or the period during which you must stay home.

The word is typically used in two main ways: the curfew set by parents for their children, and the kind of curfew ordered by the government to limit public assembly after a certain time of night, especially during times of war or civil unrest.

Parental curfews typically require the person under curfew to be home by a certain time at night.

Government curfews generally require the same thing, but often have other conditions. Usually, civilians aren’t allowed outside after the stated time and must stay in their homes until the curfew is over. Such curfews are typically enforced by police or the military, and those who violate the curfew can be subject to consequences like fines or jail time.

Government curfews are usually ordered to prevent large gatherings of people, such as those protesting, often with the stated intention of preventing violence or destruction of property. However, such curfews are sometimes criticized for violating the rights of citizens to peacefully assemble.


  • If I’m not home by curfew, my parents are going to ground me for a month.
  • After another night of protests, the mayor has ordered a citywide curfew starting at 6 p.m.

Where does curfew come from?

The first records of the word curfew come from the 1200s. It comes from the Old French covrefeu, which literally translates to “(it) covers (the) fire.” In medieval Europe, curfew referred to the ringing of a bell at a certain hour to signal people to extinguish their lamps or torches, presumably to prevent fires from starting overnight. The word curfew has been used to refer to the cover over the fire, the signal to cover it, the time at which this was done, and the rule itself.

Today, curfew is most commonly used to refer to the set time that one has to be home (as in We have to be in by curfew), the rule that sets the time (as in There is a curfew in effect), or the period during which one is required to be home (as in We’re not allowed out during curfew).

When set by government officials, a curfew operates much like a temporary law. If someone violates this rule, they are often said to be breaking curfew. The same phrase is used when a teenager stays out later than their parents have said to. Parents typically set curfews for safety reasons so their kids don’t get into trouble by staying out late at night.

Did you know ... ?

What are some words that share a root or word element with curfew

What are some words that often get used in discussing curfew?

How is curfew used in real life?

Curfews are usually unpopular with the people who are told to obey them.



Try using curfew!

True or False? 

A curfew is usually optional.

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