Word Origin See more synonyms for curtail on Thesaurus.com 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 2
probably alteration, by folk etymology, of
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for curtail-step (tr) to cut short; abridge Derived Forms curtailer, noun curtailment, 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
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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.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper