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woman making a curtsey

Alternative forms[edit]


Shortened from courtesy, 16th c. This etymology is incomplete. You can help Wiktionary by elaborating on the origins of this term.



curtsey (plural curtsies or curtseys)

  1. A small bow, generally performed by a woman or a girl, where she crosses one calf of her leg behind the other and briefly bends her knees and lowers her body in deference.
    I refused to make so much as a curtsey for the passing nobles, as I am a staunch egalitarian.




curtsey (third-person singular simple present curtsies or curtseys, present participle curtsying or curtseying, simple past and past participle curtsied or curtseyed)

  1. To make a curtsey.
    The hotel's staff variously curtsied, nodded, and bowed to the owner as she passed.
    • 1841, Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge
      "I’m sure you’ll excuse me, sir," said Mrs Varden, rising and curtseying.
    • 1861, George Eliot, Silas Marner
      On the other hand, Mrs. Ladbrook was standing in skull-cap and front, with her turban in her hand, curtsying and smiling blandly...
    • 1887, H. Rider Haggard, Allan Quatermain
      'I be as nothing in the eyes of my lord,' and she curtseyed towards him...
    • 1890, James Russell Lowell, Address in Publications of the Modern Language Association of America
      But DANTE was a great genius, and language curtesys to its natural Kings.
    • 1903, W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk
      He curtsied low, and then bowed almost to the ground, with an imperturbable gravity that seemed almost suspicious.
    • 1908, Caroline Crawford, Folk Dances and Games
      The gentleman bows and the lady curtesys (measure eight).



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