Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A regulation requiring certain or all people to leave the streets or be at home at a prescribed hour.
  • n. The time at which such a restriction begins or is in effect: a 10 P.M. curfew for all residents.
  • n. The signal, such as a bell, announcing the beginning of this restriction.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A regulation in feudal Europe by which fires had to be covered up or put out at a certain fixed time in the evening, marked by the ringing of an evening bell.
  • n. The evening bell, which continued to be rung in many towns after the regulation itself became obsolete.
  • n. Any regulation requiring people to be off the streets and in their homes by a certain time.
  • n. The time when such restriction begins.
  • n. A signal indicating this time.
  • n. A fireplace accessory designed to bank a fire by completely covering the embers.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The ringing of an evening bell, originally a signal to the inhabitants to cover fires, extinguish lights, and retire to rest, -- instituted by William the Conqueror; also, the bell itself.
  • n. A utensil for covering the fire.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The ringing of a bell at an early hour (originally 8 o'clock) in the evening, as a signal to the inhabitants of a town or village to extinguish their fires and lights; the time of ringing the bell; the bell so rung, or its sound.
  • n. A cover, ornamented or plain, for a fire; a fire-plate; a blower.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a signal (usually a bell) announcing the start of curfew restrictions
  • n. an order that after a specific time certain activities (as being outside on the streets) are prohibited
  • n. the time that the curfew signal is sounded

Etymologies

Middle English curfeu, from Old French cuevrefeu : covrir, to cover; see cover + feu, fire (from Latin focus, hearth).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Anglo-Norman coeverfu and Old French cuevre-fu (French couvre-feu), from the imperative of covrir ("to cover") + fu ("fire"). (Wiktionary)

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