Idioms

    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 forms
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for curl up (1 of 2)

curl up


verb (adverb)

(intr) to adopt a reclining position with the legs close to the body and the back rounded
to become or cause to become spiral-shaped or curved
(intr) to retire to a quiet cosy settingto curl up with a good novel
British informal to be or cause to be embarrassed or disgusted (esp in the phrase curl up and die)

British Dictionary definitions for curl up (2 of 2)

curl

/ (kɜːl) /

verb

noun

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 up

curl


v.

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

Idioms and Phrases with curl up

curl up


1

Assume a position with the legs drawn up; settle down for sleep in this posture. For example, I love to curl up with a good book. [c. 1900]

2

curl up and die. Retreat, collapse, die, as in At first the horse was ahead but in the home stretch she curled up and died, or I'll just curl up and die if he shows up. This colorful expression for collapsing or dying is often used hyperbolically (second example). [Early 1900s]

3

curl someone up. Kill someone, as in The sheriff said he'd curl up that outlaw. This usage originated as cowboy slang in the second half of the 1800s.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.