verb (used with object)

to provide, shut off, conceal, or adorn with, or as if with, a curtain.


    draw the curtain on/over,
    1. to bring to a close: to draw the curtain on a long career of public service.
    2. to keep secret.
    lift the curtain on,
    1. to commence; start.
    2. to make known or public; disclose: to lift the curtain on a new scientific discovery.

Origin of curtain

1250–1300; Middle English co(u)rtine < Anglo-French, Old French < Late Latin cortīna, probably equivalent to co(ho)rt- (stem of cohors; see court) + -īna -ine1, as calque of Greek aulaía curtain, derivative of aulḗ courtyard
Related formscur·tain·less, adjectiveun·cur·tained, adjective

Synonyms for curtain

Synonym study

1, 3. Curtain, blind, shade, shutter agree in being covers for a window, to shut out light or keep persons from looking in. Curtain, blind, and shade may mean a cover, usually of cloth, which can be rolled up and down inside the window. Curtain, however, may also refer to a drapery at a window; and a Venetian blind consists of slats mounted on tapes for drawing up or down and varying the pitch of the slats. Blind and shutter may mean a cover made of two wooden frames with movable slats, attached by hinges outside a window and pulled together or opened at will. Shutters may mean also a set of panels (wooden or iron) put up outside small shops or stores at closing time

Regional variation note

3. See window shade. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for curtains

extinction, death, exit

Examples from the Web for curtains

Contemporary Examples of curtains

Historical Examples of curtains

  • In her sleep she had seen it gliding among the pale heather-blossoms on her curtains.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola

  • There are probably no more doors, only curtains, so we shall have no trouble.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • He saw her go by, young and alert in the sunshine, and the May air stirred the curtains.

  • I got up at once, pulled back the curtains, and mumbled my rle while dressing.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • Lady N—— was indifferent to me, and how could I hang up her curtains in my memory?

British Dictionary definitions for curtains


pl n

informal death or ruin; the endif the enemy see us it will be curtains for us
a hairstyle in which the hair is parted in the centre of the forehead and curved out over the temples



a piece of material that can be drawn across an opening or window, to shut out light or to provide privacy
a barrier to vision, access, or communicationa curtain of secrecy
a hanging cloth or similar barrier for concealing all or part of a theatre stage from the audience
the curtain the end of a scene of a play, opera, etc, marked by the fall or closing of the curtain
the rise or opening of the curtain at the start of a performance


(tr sometimes foll by off) to shut off or conceal with or as if with a curtain
(tr) to provide (a window, etc) with curtains
See also curtains

Word Origin for curtain

C13: from Old French courtine, from Late Latin cortīna enclosed place, curtain, probably from Latin cohors courtyard
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 curtains



c.1300, from Old French cortine "curtain, tapestry, drape, blanket," from Late Latin cortina "curtain," but in classical Latin "round vessel, cauldron," from Latin cortem (older cohortem) "enclosure, courtyard" (see cohort). The confusion apparently begins in using cortina as a loan-translation for Greek aulaia ("curtain") in the Vulgate (to render Hebrew yeriah in Exodus xxvi:1, etc.) because the Greek word was connected to aule "court," perhaps because the "door" of a Greek house that led out to the courtyard was a hung cloth. The figurative sense in curtain call is from 1884. Curtains "the end" is 1912, originally from stage plays.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with curtains


In addition to the idioms beginning with curtain

  • curtain raiser
  • curtains for, be.

also see:

  • draw the curtain
  • raise the curtain
  • ring down the curtain
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.