curious

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English curious, corious, from Old French curios, from Latin curiosus.

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

curious (comparative curiouser or more curious, superlative curiousest or most curious)

  1. Inquisitive; tending to ask questions, investigate, or explore.
    Young children are naturally curious about the world and everything in it.
  2. Prompted by curiosity.
  3. Unusual; odd; out of the ordinary; bizarre.
    The platypus is a curious creature, with fur like a mammal and a beak like a bird.
    • 1865, Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 2,[1]
      Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English). “Now I’m opening out like the largest telescope that ever was! []
    • 1915, Emerson Hough, The Purchase Price, chapterI:
      Captain Edward Carlisle, soldier as he was, martinet as he was, felt a curious sensation of helplessness seize upon him as he met her steady gaze, her alluring smile ; he could not tell what this prisoner might do.
  4. (archaic) Artfully constructed; made with great elegance or skill.
    • c. 1590, William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 3, Act II, Scene 5,[2]
      His wonted sleep under a fresh tree’s shade,
      All which secure and sweetly he enjoys,
      Is far beyond a prince’s delicates,
      His viands sparkling in a golden cup,
      His body couched in a curious bed,
      When care, mistrust, and treason waits on him.
    • And the curious girdle of the ephod, which is upon it, shall be of the same, according to the work thereof; even of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen.
    • 1665, Robert Hooke, Micrographia, I:
      The Points of Pins are yet more blunt, and the Points of the most curious Mathematical Instruments do very seldome arrive at so great a sharpness […].
  5. (archaic) Fastidious, particular; demanding a high standard of excellence, difficult to satisfy.
    • c. 1610, William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale, Act IV, Scene 4,[3]
      I am so fraught with curious business that
      I leave out ceremony.
    • 1624, John Smith, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, London: Michael Sparkes, Book 3, Chapter 8, “Captaine Smiths Iourney to Pamavnkee,” p. 74,[4]
      [] [we] never had better fires in England, then in the dry, smoaky houses of Kecoughtan: but departing thence, when we found no houses we were not curious in any weather to lye three or foure nights together vnder the trees by a fire []
    • 1655, Thomas Fuller, The Church-History of Britain, London: John Williams, Book V, Section III, p. 206,[5]
      A pious woman [] little curious in Her clothes, being wont to say, She accounted no time lost, but what was laid out in dressing of Her []
    • 1743, Robert Drury, The Pleasant, and Surprizing Adventures of Mr. Robert Drury, during his Fifteen Years Captivity on the Island of Madagascar, London, pp. 31-32,[6]
      [] the Water was very thick, and nasty; [] however it serv’d our Purpose, for at that Time we were not very curious.

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