a hanging piece of fabric used to shut out the light from a window, adorn a room, increase privacy, etc.
a movable or folding screen used for similar purposes.
Chiefly New England. a window shade.
a set of hanging drapery for concealing all or part of the stage or set from the view of the audience.
the act or time of raising or opening a curtain at the start of a performance: an 8:30 curtain.
the end of a scene or act indicated by the closing or falling of a curtain: first-act curtain.
an effect, line, or plot solution at the conclusion of a performance: a strong curtain; weak curtain.
music signaling the end of a radio or television performance.
(used as a direction in a script of a play to indicate that a scene or act is concluded.)
anything that shuts off, covers, or conceals: a curtain of artillery fire.
Architecture. a relatively flat or featureless extent of wall between two pavilions or the like.
Fortification. the part of a wall or rampart connecting two bastions, towers, or the like.
curtains, Slang. the end; death, especially by violence: It looked like curtains for another mobster.
verb (used with object)
to provide, shut off, conceal, or adorn with, or as if with, a curtain.
draw the curtain on/over,
to bring to a close: to draw the curtain on a long career of public service.
to keep secret.
lift the curtain on,
to commence; start.
to make known or public; disclose: to lift the curtain on a new scientific discovery.

1250–1300; Middle English co(u)rtine < Anglo-French, Old French < Late Latin cortīna, probably equivalent to co(ho)rt- (stem of cohors; see court) + -īna -ine1, as calque of Greek aulaía curtain, derivative of aulḗ courtyard

curtainless, adjective
uncurtained, adjective

1. drapery, portiere, lambrequin, valance. 1, 3. Curtain, blind, shade, shutter agree in being covers for a window, to shut out light or keep persons from looking in. Curtain, blind and shade may mean a cover, usually of cloth, which can be rolled up and down inside the window. Curtain however, may also refer to a drapery at a window; and a Venetian blind consists of slats mounted on tapes for drawing up or down and varying the pitch of the slats. Blind and shutter may mean a cover made of two wooden frames with movable slats, attached by hinges outside a window and pulled together or opened at will. Shutters may mean also a set of panels (wooden or iron) put up outside small shops or stores at closing time.

3. See window shade. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
curtain (ˈkɜːtən)
1.  a piece of material that can be drawn across an opening or window, to shut out light or to provide privacy
2.  a barrier to vision, access, or communication: a curtain of secrecy
3.  a hanging cloth or similar barrier for concealing all or part of a theatre stage from the audience
4.  the curtain the end of a scene of a play, opera, etc, marked by the fall or closing of the curtain
5.  the rise or opening of the curtain at the start of a performance
vb (sometimes foll by off)
6.  to shut off or conceal with or as if with a curtain
7.  (tr) to provide (a window, etc) with curtains
[C13: from Old French courtine, from Late Latin cortīna enclosed place, curtain, probably from Latin cohors courtyard]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, from O.Fr. curtine, from L.L. cortina "curtain," but originally "round vessel, cauldron," from L. cortem (older cohortem) "enclosure, courtyard." The confusion apparently begins in using cortina as a loan-translation for Gk. aulaia ("curtain") in the Vulgate (to render Heb. yeriah in Exodus xxvi:1,
etc.) because the Gk. word was connected to aule "court," perhaps because the "door" of a Gk. house that led out to the courtyard was a hung cloth. The fig. sense in curtain call is from 1884. Curtains "the end" is 1912, originally from stage plays.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Curtain definition

(1.) Ten curtains, each twenty-eight cubits long and four wide, made of fine linen, also eleven made of goat's hair, covered the tabernacle (Ex. 26:1-13; 36:8-17). (2.) The sacred curtain, separating the holy of holies from the sanctuary, is designated by a different Hebrew word (peroketh). It is described as a "veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work" (Ex. 26:31; Lev. 16:2; Num. 18:7). (3.) "Stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain" (Isa. 40:22), is an expression used with reference to the veil or awning which Orientals spread for a screen over their courts in summer. According to the prophet, the heavens are spread over our heads as such an awning. Similar expressions are found in Ps. 104:2l; comp. Isa. 44:24; Job 9:8.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with curtain, also see draw the curtain; raise the curtain; ring down the curtain.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
He imagines that a window curtain is a stage curtain with a packed auditorium
  on the other side.
With each step, the curtain of mountain and forest draws tighter, sealing you
  off from the modern world.
The video game's sound effects seem to fade behind a muffling curtain of
But then the colors vanish all at once as if a curtain has been pulled down.
Image for curtain
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