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curtail2

[kur-teyl] /ˈkɜrˌteɪl/
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
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for curtail step

curtail step

/ˈkɜːteɪl/
noun
1.
the step or steps at the foot of a flight of stairs, widened at one or both ends and terminated with a scroll

curtail

/kɜːˈteɪl/
verb
1.
(transitive) to cut short; abridge
Derived Forms
curtailer, noun
curtailment, noun
Word Origin
C16: changed (through influence of tail1) from obsolete curtal to dock; see curtal
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for curtail step

curtail

v.

late 15c., from Middle French courtault "made short," from court "short" (Old French cort, from Latin curtus; see curt) + -ault pejorative suffix of Germanic origin. Originally curtal; used of horses with docked tails, which probably influenced the spelling. Related: Curtailed; curtailing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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