• synonyms


  1. a game played on ice in which two teams of four players each compete in sliding large stones toward a mark in the center of a circle.Compare house(def 20).
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Origin of curling

1610–20; perhaps curl + -ing1, from the motion imparted to the sliding stones


verb (used with object)
  1. to form into coils or ringlets, as the hair.
  2. to form into a spiral or curved shape; coil.
  3. to adorn with, or as with, curls or ringlets.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to grow in or form curls or ringlets, as the hair.
  2. to become curved or undulated.
  3. to coil.
  4. to play at the game of curling.
  5. to progress in a curving direction or path; move in a curving or spiraling way: The ball curled toward the plate.
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  1. a coil or ringlet of hair.
  2. anything of a spiral or curved shape, as a lettuce leaf, wood shaving, etc.
  3. a coil.
  4. the act of curling or state of being curled.
  5. Plant Pathology.
    1. the distortion, fluting, or puffing of a leaf, resulting from the unequal development of its two sides.
    2. a disease so characterized.
  6. Also called rotation. Mathematics.
    1. a vector obtained from a given vector by taking its cross product with the vector whose coordinates are the partial derivative operators with respect to each coordinate.
    2. the operation that produces this vector.
  7. Weightlifting.
    1. an underhand forearm lift in which the barbell, held against the thighs, is raised to the chest and then lowered while keeping the legs, upper arms, and shoulders taut.
    2. a similar forearm lift using a dumbbell or dumbbells, usually from the side of the body to the shoulders.
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Verb Phrases
  1. curl up, to sit or lie down cozily: to curl up with a good book.
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  1. curl one's lip, to assume or display an expression of contempt: He curled his lip in disdain.
  2. 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.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for curling

coil, buckle, writhe, curve, contort, twist, fold, twirl, spiral, quirk, kink, wave, whorl, swirl, flourish, crimp, frizz, curlicue, convolute, crook

Examples from the Web for curling

Contemporary Examples of curling

Historical Examples of curling

  • Sweet smoke was curling upward, and the room rang with a hymn.

  • From the chimney of the cabin a thin wreath of smoke was curling.

    Dave Porter At Bear Camp

    Edward Stratemeyer

  • Be there any manner of irons, Jennet, for crisping or curling the hair?

    Clare Avery

    Emily Sarah Holt

  • The dogs were curling up in the wind like leaves before a blaze.

    A Woman who went to Alaska

    May Kellogg Sullivan

  • With one hand hipping his saber and the other curling his mustaches, he smiled at her.

    The Lure of the Mask

    Harold MacGrath

British Dictionary definitions for curling


  1. a game played on ice, esp in Scotland and Canada, in which heavy stones with handles (curling stones) are slid towards a target (tee)
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  1. (intr) (esp of hair) to grow into curves or ringlets
  2. (tr sometimes foll by up) to twist or roll (something, esp hair) into coils or ringlets
  3. (often foll by up) to become or cause to become spiral-shaped or curved; coilthe heat made the leaves curl up
  4. (intr) to move in a curving or twisting manner
  5. (intr) to play the game of curling
  6. curl one's lip to show contempt, as by raising a corner of the lip
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  1. a curve or coil of hair
  2. a curved or spiral shape or mark, as in wood
  3. the act of curling or state of being curled
  4. any of various plant diseases characterized by curling of the leaves
  5. 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)
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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 curling


game played with stones on ice, 1610s, from present participle of curl (v.). "The name appears to describe the motion given to the stone" [OED]. A description of a similar game is attested from Flanders c.1600.

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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper