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  1. the expression of a wish that misfortune, evil, doom, etc., befall a person, group, etc.
  2. a formula or charm intended to cause such misfortune to another.
  3. the act of reciting such a formula.
  4. a profane oath; curse word.
  5. an evil that has been invoked upon one.
  6. the cause of evil, misfortune, or trouble.
  7. something accursed.
  8. Slang. the menstrual period; menstruation (usually preceded by the).
  9. an ecclesiastical censure or anathema.
verb (used with object), cursed or curst, curs·ing.
  1. to wish or invoke evil, calamity, injury, or destruction upon.
  2. to swear at.
  3. to blaspheme.
  4. to afflict with great evil.
  5. to excommunicate.
verb (used without object), cursed or curst, curs·ing.
  1. to utter curses; swear profanely.

Origin of curse

before 1050; Middle English curs (noun), cursen (verb), Old English curs (noun), cursian (verb), of disputed origin
Related formscurs·er, nounout·curse, verb (used with object), out·cursed, out·curs·ing.un·curs·ing, adjective
Can be confusedcoarse course cursecurse cuss

Synonyms for curse

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Synonym study

10, 12. Curse, blaspheme, swear are often interchangeable in the sense of using profane language. However, curse is the general word for the heartfelt invoking or angry calling down of evil on another: to curse an enemy. To blaspheme is to speak contemptuously or with abuse of God or of sacred things: to blaspheme openly. To swear is to use the name of God or of some holy person or thing as an exclamation to add force or show anger: to swear in every sentence.

Antonyms for curse Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for curses

Contemporary Examples of curses

Historical Examples of curses

British Dictionary definitions for curses


  1. often facetious an expression of disappointment or dismay


  1. a profane or obscene expression of anger, disgust, surprise, etc; oath
  2. an appeal to a supernatural power for harm to come to a specific person, group, etc
  3. harm resulting from an appeal to a supernatural powerto be under a curse
  4. something that brings or causes great trouble or harm
  5. a saying, charm, effigy, etc, used to invoke a curse
  6. an ecclesiastical censure of excommunication
  7. the curse informal menstruation or a menstrual period
verb curses, cursing, cursed or archaic curst
  1. (intr) to utter obscenities or oaths
  2. (tr) to abuse (someone) with obscenities or oaths
  3. (tr) to invoke supernatural powers to bring harm to (someone or something)
  4. (tr) to bring harm upon
  5. (tr) another word for excommunicate
Derived Formscurser, noun

Word Origin for curse

Old English cursian to curse, from curs a curse
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 curses



Old English cursian, from the source of curse (n.). Meaning "to swear profanely" is from early 13c. Related: Cursed; cursing.



late Old English curs "a prayer that evil or harm befall one," of uncertain origin, perhaps from Old French curuz "anger," or Latin cursus "course." Connection with cross is unlikely. No similar word exists in Germanic, Romance, or Celtic. Curses as a histrionic exclamation is from 1885. The curse "menstruation" is from 1930. Curse of Scotland, the 9 of diamonds in cards, is attested from 1791, but the origin is obscure.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper