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From Middle English curfu, from Old French cuevre-fu (French couvre-feu), from the imperative of covrir (to cover) + fu (fire).



curfew (plural curfews)

  1. Any regulation requiring people to be off the streets and in their homes by a certain time.
    • 2012 October 31, David M. Halbfinger, "Hurricane Sandy," New York Times (retrieved 31 October 2012):
      Localities across New Jersey imposed curfews to prevent looting. In Monmouth, Ocean and other counties, people waited for hours for gasoline at the few stations that had electricity. Supermarket shelves were stripped bare.
  2. The time when such restriction begins.
  3. A signal indicating this time.
  4. A fireplace accessory designed to bank a fire by completely covering the embers.
  5. (historical) A regulation in feudal Europe by which fires had to be covered up or put out at a certain fixed time in the evening, marked by the ringing of an evening bell.
  6. The evening bell, which continued to be rung in many towns after the regulation itself became obsolete.

Derived termsEdit


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See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Alternative form of curfu