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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., 55 Fifth Avenue, [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. (fortifications) The flat area of wall which connects two bastions or towers; the main area of a fortified wall.
  4. (euphemistic, also "final curtain") Death.
  5. (architecture) That part of a wall of a building which is between two pavilions, towers, etc.
  6. (obsolete, derogatory) A flag; an ensign.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)

Derived terms[edit]


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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.
    • 1985, Carol Shields, "Dolls, Dolls, Dolls, Dolls" in The Collected Stories, Random House Canada, 2004, p. 163,
      The window, softly curtained with dotted swiss, became the focus of my desperate hour-by-hour attention.
  2. (figuratively) 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 also[edit]