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curtain raiser

a short play preceding a main play.
any preliminary event or performance.
Origin of curtain raiser
1885-90 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for curtain-raiser
Historical Examples
  • The actors in the curtain-raiser were returning to their dressing-rooms.

    A Mummer's Tale Anatole France
  • This, to be sure, is only the curtain-raiser to the pleasures to follow.

    Pipefuls Christopher Morley
  • The curtain-raiser was over, and very nice too; now for the drama.

    If Winter Comes A.S.M. Hutchinson
  • They had made, Ted Hunter announced, a very short mystery reel which they would now run as a curtain-raiser to the main event.

    Hour of Enchantment Roy J. Snell
  • He almost wished he had not followed the curtain-raiser with his own stronger drama.

    The Big Bow Mystery I. Zangwill
  • On the first night performance of "The Alcade," she played in a curtain-raiser, "Bertram."

    Repertory Of The Comedie Humaine, Complete, A -- Z Anatole Cerfberr and Jules Franois Christophe
  • Maybe you could make a one-act tragedy out of it for a curtain-raiser.

  • There was no curtain-raiser, and the first act was well constructed and interesting from the commencement.

    The House by the Lock C. N. Williamson
  • But if you don't know how easy it is, it looks like a curtain-raiser for manslaughter.

    Shorty McCabe Sewell Ford
  • It is my opinion that your part in the affair is only a curtain-raiser to graver things.

    The Puppet Crown Harold MacGrath
British Dictionary definitions for curtain-raiser


(theatre) a short dramatic piece presented before the main play
any preliminary event: the debate was a curtain-raiser to the election
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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Idioms and Phrases with curtain-raiser

curtain raiser

Preliminary event, as in This limited attack on the chairman is just a curtain raiser for the concerted effort to oust him. This term literally refers to a short play or skit presented before the main theatrical production. It began to be transferred to other preliminaries about 1940.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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