From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Girl surrounded by curtains


Inherited from Middle English curtine, from Old French cortine, from Late Latin cōrtīna (curtain), a calque from Ancient Greek.



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; republished in Novels of Mystery: The Lodger; The Story of Ivy; What Really Happened, New York, N.Y.: Longmans, Green and Co., [], [1933], →OCLC, 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.
    • 1944 November and December, “"Duplex Roomette" Sleeping Cars”, in Railway Magazine, page 324:
      It is realised that the old Pullman standard sleeper, with its convertible "sections", each containing upper and lower berths, and with no greater privacy at night than the curtains drawn along both sides of a middle aisle, has had its day.
  2. A similar piece of cloth that separates the audience and the stage in a theater.
    • 1904–1905, Baroness Orczy [i.e., Emma Orczy], “The Lisson Grove Mystery”, in The Case of Miss Elliott, London: T[homas] Fisher Unwin, published 1905, →OCLC; republished as popular edition, London: Greening & Co., 1909, OCLC 11192831, quoted in The Case of Miss Elliott (ebook no. 2000141h.html), Australia: Project Gutenberg of Australia, February 2020:
      “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", sometimes in the plural) 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.
  8. The uninterrupted stream of fluid that falls onto a moving substrate in the process of curtain coating.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


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

  1. (transitive) To cover (a window) with a curtain; to hang curtains.
  2. (transitive, figuratively) To hide, cover or separate as if by a curtain.
    • 1593, William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus[1], act II, scene 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[2]:
      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 [Horace Gregory], The Metamorphoses, New York: Viking, Book IV, Perseus, page 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 [2001], A. B. Yehoshua [Hillel Halkin], The Liberated Bride, Harcourt, Part 2, Chapter 17, page 115:
      But bleakness still curtained the gray horizon.



See also[edit]