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From Middle English curiosite, variant of curiouste, from Anglo-Norman curiouseté, from Latin cūriōsitātem, accusative of cūriōsitās. By surface analysis, curious +‎ -ity.[1] Displaced native Old English firwitt.


  • (Received Pronunciation) enPR: kyo͝or"ēŏs'ətē, kyôr"ēŏs'ətē, IPA(key): /ˌkjʊəɹiˈɒsəti/, /ˌkjɔːɹiˈɒsəti/, /-ɪti/
  • (General American) enPR: kyo͝or"ēŏs'ətē, kyûr"ēŏs'ətē, IPA(key): /ˌkjʊəɹiˈɑsəti/, /ˌkjɚiˈɑsəti/, /-ɪti/
  • (dialectal or informal) enPR: kyo͝o"rŏs'ətē, kyô"rŏs'ətē, kyû"rŏs'ətē, IPA(key): /ˌkjʊəˈɹɒsəti/, /ˌkjɔːˈɹɒsəti/, /ˌkjɜːˈɹɒsəti/[2]
  • Audio (US):(file)
  • Rhymes: -ɒsɪti



curiosity (countable and uncountable, plural curiosities)

  1. (uncountable) Inquisitiveness; the tendency to ask and learn about things by asking questions, investigating, or exploring. [from 17th c.]
    Synonym: inquisitiveness
    Antonym: ignorance
    • 1886 January 5, Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., →OCLC:
      It was the first time that the lawyer had been received in that part of his friend's quarters; and he eyed the dingy, windowless structure with curiosity, and gazed round with a distasteful sense of strangeness as he crossed the theatre
    • 1956, Arthur C. Clarke, The City and the Stars, page 39:
      "Certainly there is nothing wrong with Alvin's intelligence, but many of the things that should concern him seem to be a matter of complete indifference. On the other hand, he shows a morbid curiosity regarding subjects which we do not generally discuss."
    • 2013 September-October, Terrie Moffitt et al., “Lifelong Impact of Early Self-Control”, in American Scientist:
      Curiosity about the power of self-control skills, which include conscientiousness, self-discipline, and perseverance, arose from recent empirical observations that preschool Head Start, an ambitious, federally funded program of special services launched in 1965 to boost the intellectual development of needy children, has failed to achieve the goal of boosting IQ scores. But the programs have unexpectedly succeeded in lowering the former pupils’ rates of teen pregnancy, school dropout, delinquency, and work absenteeism.
  2. A unique or extraordinary object which arouses interest. [from 17th c.]
    He put the strangely shaped rock in his curiosity cabinet.
  3. (obsolete) Careful, delicate construction; fine workmanship, delicacy of building. [16th–19th c.]
    • 1631, John Smith, Advertisements, Kupperman, published 1988, page 81:
      wee built a homely thing like a barne, set upon Cratchets, covered with rafts, sedge, and earth, so also was the walls; the best of our houses of the like curiosity, but the most part farre much worse workmanship []

Derived terms





  1. ^ Why is it spelled “curiosity” instead of “curiousity?”
  2. ^ Hall, Joseph Sargent (1942 March 2) “2. The Vowel Sounds of Unstressed and Partially Stressed Syllables”, in The Phonetics of Great Smoky Mountain Speech (American Speech: Reprints and Monographs; 4), New York: King's Crown Press, →DOI, →ISBN, § II.2, page 65.