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from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Material that hangs in a window or other opening as a decoration, shade, or screen.
  • n. Something that functions as or resembles a screen, cover, or barrier: the curtain of mist before the mountain; a heavy curtain of artillery fire.
  • n. The movable screen or drape in a theater or hall that separates the stage from the auditorium or that serves as a backdrop.
  • n. The rising or opening of a theater curtain at the beginning of a performance or act.
  • n. The time at which a theatrical performance begins or is scheduled to begin.
  • n. The fall or closing of a theater curtain at the end of a performance or act.
  • n. The concluding line, speech, or scene of a play or act.
  • n. The part of a rampart or parapet connecting two bastions or gates.
  • n. Architecture A curtain wall.
  • n. Slang The end.
  • n. Slang Absolute ruin: "If the employee doesn't shape up, it's curtains” ( Business Week).
  • n. Slang Death.
  • transitive v. To provide (something) with or as if with a curtain.
  • transitive v. To shut off (something) with or as if with a curtain.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A piece of cloth covering a window to keep the sun from shining inside.
  • n. A similar piece of cloth that separates the audience and the stage in a theater.
  • n. The flat area of wall which connects two bastions or towers; the main area of a fortified wall.
  • n. death
  • v. To cover (a window) with a curtain; to hang curtains.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A hanging screen intended to darken or conceal, and admitting of being drawn back or up, and reclosed at pleasure; esp., drapery of cloth or lace hanging round a bed or at a window; in theaters, and like places, a movable screen for concealing the stage.
  • n. That part of the rampart and parapet which is between two bastions or two gates. See Illustrations of Ravelin and Bastion.
  • n. That part of a wall of a building which is between two pavilions, towers, etc.
  • n. A flag; an ensign; -- in contempt.
  • transitive v. To inclose as with curtains; to furnish with curtains.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A hanging screen of a textile fabric (or rarely of leather) used to close an opening, as a doorway or an alcove, to shut out the light from a window, and for similar purposes. See blind, shade, portière, lambrequin; also altar-curtain and hanging.
  • n. Hangings used to shut in or screen a bedstead.
  • n. Hence Whatever covers or conceals like a curtain or hangings.
  • n. One of the movable pieces of canvas or other material forming a tent.
  • n. In fortification, that part of a rampart which is between the flanks of two bastions or between two towers or gates, and bordered with a parapet, behind which the soldiers stand to fire on the covered way and into the moat. See cuts under bastion and crown-work.
  • n. An ensign or flag.
  • n. In mycology, same as cortina.
  • n. A plate in a lock designed to fall over the keyhole as a mask to prevent tampering with the lock.
  • n. The leaden plate which divides into compartments the large leaden chamber in which sulphuric acid is produced by the oxidation of sulphurous compounds in the ordinary process of manufacture.
  • To inclose with or as with curtains; furnish or provide with curtains.
  • n. In hydraul. engm., a woven fabric of brushwood or withes, such as branches of willows, placed in a stream to retard the current and permit the deposition of silt, or to compel scour and remove it.
  • n. A vertical fold of the mantle within the margins of the valves of certain pelecypods (the pectens).
  • n. In architecture, a wall which serves as an inclosure rather than as a support. Thus the wall beneath a large window, as in a church, or that between two buttresses which carry the vault and roof without its assistance, is a curtain.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any barrier to communication or vision
  • v. provide with drapery
  • n. hanging cloth used as a blind (especially for a window)


Middle English cortine, from Old French, from Late Latin cōrtīna, from Latin cōrs, cōrt-, variant of cohors, court; see court.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French cortine, from Latin cortina. (Wiktionary)



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  • In castle architecture, the wall enclosing a bailey, courtyard, or ward, generally constructed of stone.

    Also a word that makes me think of very old Bugs Bunny cartoons: "It's curtains for you, see? Nyah, see, nyah."

    August 24, 2008