[ ker-teyl ]
/ kərˈteɪl /

verb (used with object)

to cut short; cut off a part of; abridge; reduce; diminish.

Origin of curtail

1425–75; late Middle English curtailen to restrict (said of royal succession or inheritance), probably a conflation of Middle French courtau(l)d (see curtal) and Middle English taillen to cut (see taille, tailor1)

Related forms

Definition for curtail (2 of 2)


[ kur-teyl ]
/ ˈkɜrˌteɪl /

noun Architecture.

a horizontal, spiral termination to the lower end of a stair railing.
Also called curtail step. a starting step having a scroll termination to one or both ends of the tread.

Origin of curtail

probably alteration, by folk etymology, of curtal Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for curtail

British Dictionary definitions for curtail


/ (kɜːˈteɪl) /


(tr) to cut short; abridge

Derived Forms

curtailer, nouncurtailment, noun

Word Origin for curtail

C16: changed (through influence of tail 1) from obsolete curtal to dock; see curtal
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