cur-tail step

curtail

2 [kur-teyl]
noun Architecture.
1.
a horizontal, spiral termination to the lower end of a stair railing.
2.
Also called curtail step. a starting step having a scroll termination to one or both ends of the tread.

Origin:
probably alteration, by folk etymology, of curtal

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World English Dictionary
curtail (kɜːˈteɪl)
 
vb
(tr) to cut short; abridge
 
[C16: changed (through influence of tail1) from obsolete curtal to dock; see curtal]
 
cur'tailer
 
n
 
cur'tailment
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

curtail
late 15c., from M.Fr. courtault "made short," from court "short," from L. curtus (see curt) + -ault pejorative suffix of Gmc. origin. Originally curtal; used of horses with docked tails, which probably influenced the spelling.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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