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adjective, curt·er, curt·est.
  1. rudely brief in speech or abrupt in manner.
  2. brief; concise; terse; laconic.
  3. short; shortened.
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Origin of curt

First recorded in 1620–30, curt is from the Latin word curtus shortened, short, cut short
Related formscurt·ly, adverbcurt·ness, noun


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Synonym study

2. See blunt.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for curtly

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • "That mare'll beat him," retorted Porter, curtly, nettled by the other's cocksureness.


    W. A. Fraser

  • "They were too strong for the little mare," answered the Trainer, curtly.


    W. A. Fraser

  • "I guess my teeth'll last me as long as I want 'em," said Amelia curtly.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • "That depends on who she is, Monsieur," replied the Colonel, curtly.

  • "No use in arguing this thing on its merits," he said, curtly, at last.

    The Coryston Family

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

British Dictionary definitions for curtly


  1. rudely blunt and brief; abrupta curt reply
  2. short or concise
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Derived Formscurtly, adverbcurtness, noun

Word Origin

C17: from Latin curtus cut short, mutilated
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 curtly



mid-14c., from Latin curtus "(cut) short, shortened, incomplete," from PIE root *(s)ker- "to cut" (see short (adj.)). Sense of "rude" is first recorded 1831. The Latin word was adopted early into most Germanic languages (cf. Icelandic korta, German kurz, etc.) and drove out the native words based on Proto-Germanic *skurt-, but English retains short.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper