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[kur-loo] /ˈkɜr lu/
any of several shorebirds of the genus Numenius, having a long, slender, downcurved bill, as the common N. arquata, of Europe.
any of various similar birds.
Origin of curlew
1300-50; Middle English < Anglo-French curleu, cognate with Middle French corleu; perhaps imitative Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for curlew
Historical Examples
  • Up to that moment, "The curlew" had not been taken; but perhaps that shot had struck down her sails.

    Left on Labrador Charles Asbury Stephens
  • Then silence again, save for the long-drawn wail of a curlew.

    The Call Of The South Louis Becke
  • No, it must be the curlew, but at least he would be going home.

    Lysbeth H. Rider Haggard
  • At that instant the curlew shot over her head with its deep, mournful cry.

    A Son of Hagar Sir Hall Caine
  • "The Pelican and the curlew are outfitted for that kind of work," she stated.

    El Diablo Brayton Norton
  • "The curlew" dashed forward, rising and falling with the swells.

    Left on Labrador Charles Asbury Stephens
  • Now 'twas full and strong, and now 'twas so eerie and wild that it was more like a curlew's note than any human thing.

  • It was at once set; and "The curlew" started on in the wake of the shower.

    Left on Labrador Charles Asbury Stephens
  • It would be foolhardy to take a boat like the curlew out in such a storm.

    The Ocean Wireless Boys And The Naval Code John Henry Goldfrap, AKA Captain Wilbur Lawton
  • It ain't as if 'The curlew' was loaded down, and lay low in the water.

    Left on Labrador Charles Asbury Stephens
British Dictionary definitions for curlew


any large shore bird of the genus Numenius, such as N. arquata of Europe and Asia: family Scolopacidae (sandpipers, etc), order Charadriiformes. They have a long downward-curving bill and occur in northern and arctic regions Compare stone curlew
Word Origin
C14: from Old French corlieu, perhaps of imitative origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for curlew

mid-14c., from Old French courlieu (13c., Modern French courlis), said to be imitative of the bird's cry but apparently assimilated with corliu "runner, messenger," from corre "to run" (see current (adj.)). The bird is a good runner.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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