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curtail2

[kur-teyl]
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noun Architecture.
  1. a horizontal, spiral termination to the lower end of a stair railing.
  2. Also called curtail step. a starting step having a scroll termination to one or both ends of the tread.
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Origin of curtail2

probably alteration, by folk etymology, of curtal
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for curtail step

curtail step

noun
  1. the step or steps at the foot of a flight of stairs, widened at one or both ends and terminated with a scroll
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curtail

verb
  1. (tr) to cut short; abridge
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Derived Formscurtailer, nouncurtailment, noun

Word Origin

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

Word Origin and History for curtail step

curtail

v.

late 15c., from Middle French courtault "made short," from court "short" (Old French cort, from Latin curtus; see curt) + -ault pejorative suffix of Germanic origin. Originally curtal; used of horses with docked tails, which probably influenced the spelling. Related: Curtailed; curtailing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper