/ (ˈkɜːtənz) /
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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
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True or false? British English and American English are only different when it comes to slang words.
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


What does curtains mean?

The word curtains is a slang expression referring to the end, ruin, or death of something.

When the term is used to literally refer to death, it’s very irreverent, meaning it treats the subject very lightly and perhaps even humorously, as in It’ll be curtains for old Flattop when the boss sends his hitmen. It would be disrespectful in most cases to use the term to refer to a real-life death.

The term is often used in an exaggerated way that likens a failure to one’s undoing or death, as in It will be curtains for me if I don’t pass this test. 

The term is based on a figurative sense of the word curtain in the context of theater. When the literal stage curtains close for the final time after a performance, it means it’s over.

Example: It looks like it’s curtains for our hero unless he can find a way to escape!

Where does curtains come from?

The first records of the slang sense of curtains referring to death or ruin come from the early 1900s.

In the context of theater, the singular term curtain has several specific uses. The literal curtain on a stage is used to conceal the stage until the performance is ready to be seen. In a figurative sense, it can refer to the starting time of a performance, as in Curtain is at 2 p.m. or We have a 7 o’clock curtain. This sense of the word refers to the when the literal curtain opens.

Another sense of the word refers to when the curtain closes—it refers to the end of a scene or act, as in the second-act curtain. Curtain can also refer to the conclusion of a performance or a plot solution at the end, as in I liked the play, but I thought the curtain was weak. Like these senses, the slang term curtains always refers to an end of some kind. It’s often used in a way that’s intended to be humorous. It can be used in many contexts, such as an employee getting fired, a politician getting voted out of office, a team getting eliminated from the playoffs, or a kid getting grounded.

Did you know ... ?

What are some synonyms for curtains?

What are some words that share a root or word element with curtains

What are some words that often get used in discussing curtains?

How is curtains used in real life?

Curtains is often used in an irreverent or humorous way.



Try using curtains!

Is curtains used correctly in the following sentence?

If the polls are any indication, it’s going to be curtains for the senator on election day.

How to use curtains in a sentence