Definition of curtal in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkəːt(ə)l/


Shortened, abridged, or curtailed: the curtal frock of sunbright cotton
More example sentences
  • A ‘curtal [shortened] sonnet’ (G.M. Hopkins) consists of a sestet followed by a quatrain and a half-line tailpiece.


A dulcian or bassoon of the late 16th to early 18th century.
Example sentences
  • The result is a programme of genuine old fashioned carols, songs and dances, performed on shawms, sackbut, recorders, flutes, curtals, lutes, guitars, harp, bagpipes and the hurdy-gurdy.
  • The lowest of the four orchestral woodwinds, it was developed from the Renaissance curtal or dulcian in the mid-17th century as part of the general reconstruction of all woodwind instruments that took place in France.
  • Anyone who blew you away with their chops on cornetto, curtal or theorbo?


Late 15th century (denoting a short-barrelled cannon): from French courtault, from court 'short' + the pejorative suffix -ault. In both English and French the noun denoted various items characterized by something short, especially an animal with a docked tail, which probably gave rise to the adjective sense.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cur¦tal

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