curl one's lip, to assume or display an expression of contempt: He curled his lip in disdain.
    curl one's/the hair, to fill with horror or fright; shock: Some of his stories about sailing across the Atlantic are enough to curl one's hair.

Origin of curl

1400–50; late Middle English, apparently back formation from curled, metathetic variant of Middle English crulled (past participle) crul (adj.); compare Middle Dutch crullen to curl, cruller
Related formscurl·ed·ly [kur-lid-lee, kurld-] /ˈkɜr lɪd li, ˈkɜrld-/, adverbcurl·ed·ness, nounin·ter·curl, verbun·der·curl, nounun·der·curl, verbwell-curled, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for curl

Contemporary Examples of curl

Historical Examples of curl

British Dictionary definitions for curl



(intr) (esp of hair) to grow into curves or ringlets
(tr sometimes foll by up) to twist or roll (something, esp hair) into coils or ringlets
(often foll by up) to become or cause to become spiral-shaped or curved; coilthe heat made the leaves curl up
(intr) to move in a curving or twisting manner
(intr) to play the game of curling
curl one's lip to show contempt, as by raising a corner of the lip


a curve or coil of hair
a curved or spiral shape or mark, as in wood
the act of curling or state of being curled
any of various plant diseases characterized by curling of the leaves
Also called: rot, rotation maths a vector quantity associated with a vector field that is the vector product of the operator ∇ and a vector function A, where ∇ = i ∂/∂ x + j ∂/∂b y + k ∂/∂ z, i, j, and k being unit vectors. Usually written curl A, rot ACompare divergence (def. 4), gradient (def. 4)
See also curl up

Word Origin for curl

C14: probably from Middle Dutch crullen to curl; related to Middle High German krol curly, Middle Low German krūs curly
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 curl

mid-15c., metathesis of crulle (c.1300), probably from an unrecorded Old English word or from Middle Dutch krul "curly," from Proto-Germanic *krusl- (cf. East Frisian krull "lock of hair," Middle High German krol, Norwegian krull, Danish krølle "curl"). The noun is recorded from c.1600.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper