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
C14: from Old French corlieu, perhaps of imitative origin
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.