Girl surrounded by curtains


From Middle English curteyn, corteyn, cortyn, cortine, from Old French cortine, from Medieval Latin cōrtīna (curtain), from Latin cohors (court, enclosure).



curtain (plural curtains)

  1. A piece of cloth covering a window, bed, etc. to offer privacy and keep out light.
    • 1913, Mrs. [Marie] Belloc Lowndes, chapter I, in The Lodger, London: Methuen, OCLC 7780546; republished in Novels of Mystery: The Lodger; The Story of Ivy; What Really Happened, New York, N.Y.: Longmans, Green and Co., [], [1933], OCLC 2666860, page 0016:
      Thus the red damask curtains which now shut out the fog-laden, drizzling atmosphere of the Marylebone Road, had cost a mere song, and yet they might have been warranted to last another thirty years. A great bargain also had been the excellent Axminster carpet which covered the floor; as, again, the arm-chair in which Bunting now sat forward, staring into the dull, small fire.
  2. A similar piece of cloth that separates the audience and the stage in a theater.
    • 1905, Baroness Emmuska Orczy, chapter 2, in The Lisson Grove Mystery[1]:
      “H'm !” he said, “so, so—it is a tragedy in a prologue and three acts. I am going down this afternoon to see the curtain fall for the third time on what [] will prove a good burlesque ; but it all began dramatically enough. It was last Saturday [] that two boys, playing in the little spinney just outside Wembley Park Station, came across three large parcels done up in American cloth. []
  3. (theater, by extension) The beginning of a show; the moment the curtain rises.
    He took so long to shave his head that we arrived 45 minutes after curtain and were denied late entry.
  4. (fortifications) The flat area of wall which connects two bastions or towers; the main area of a fortified wall.
  5. (euphemistic, also "final curtain") Death.
  6. (architecture) That part of a wall of a building which is between two pavilions, towers, etc.
  7. (obsolete, derogatory) A flag; an ensign.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)

Derived termsEdit


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curtain (third-person singular simple present curtains, present participle curtaining, simple past and past participle curtained)

  1. To cover (a window) with a curtain; to hang curtains.
  2. (figurative) To hide, cover or separate as if by a curtain.
    • c. 1593, William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, Act II, Scene 2, [2]
      And, after conflict such as was supposed / The wandering prince and Dido once enjoy'd, / When with a happy storm they were surprised / And curtain'd with a counsel-keeping cave, / We may, each wreathed in the other's arms, / Our pastimes done, possess a golden slumber;
    • 1840, Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry" [3]
      But poetry in a more restricted sense expresses those arrangements of language, and especially metrical language, which are created by that imperial faculty; whose throne is curtained within the invisible nature of man.
    • 1958, Ovid, The Metamorphoses, translated by Horace Gregory, New York: Viking, Book IV, Perseus, p. 115,
      He saw a rock that pierced the shifting waters / As they stilled, now curtained by the riding / Of the waves, and leaped to safety on it.
    • 2003, A. B. Yehoshua, The Liberated Bride (2001), translated by Hillel Halkin, Harcourt, Part 2, Chapter 17, p. 115,
      But bleakness still curtained the gray horizon.



See alsoEdit