from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Eager to learn more.
  • adjective Unduly inquisitive; prying.
  • adjective Arousing interest because of novelty or strangeness.
  • adjective Accomplished with skill or ingenuity.
  • adjective Extremely careful; scrupulous or fastidious.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To work curiously; elaborate.
  • Careful; nice; accurate; fastidious; precise; exacting; minute.
  • Wrought with or requiring care and art; neat; elaborate; finished: as, a curious work.
  • Exciting curiosity or surprise; awakening inquisitive interest; rare; singular; odd: as, a curious fact.
  • Inquisitive; desirous of seeing or knowing; eager to learn; addicted to research or inquiry; sometimes, in a disparaging sense, prying: as, a man of a curious mind: followed by after, of, in, or about, or an infinitive.
  • Synonyms. Strange, Surprising, etc. See wonderful. Curious, Inquisitive, Prying. Curious and inquisitive may be used in a good or a bad sense, but inquisitive is more often, and prying is only, found in the latter. Curious expresses only the desire to know; inquisitive, the effort to find out by inquiry; prying, the effort to find out secrets by looking and working in improper ways.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective obsolete Difficult to please or satisfy; solicitous to be correct; careful; scrupulous; nice; exact.
  • adjective Exhibiting care or nicety; artfully constructed; elaborate; wrought with elegance or skill.
  • adjective Careful or anxious to learn; eager for knowledge; given to research or inquiry; habitually inquisitive; prying; -- sometimes with after or of.
  • adjective Exciting attention or inquiry; awakening surprise; inviting and rewarding inquisitiveness; not simple or plain; strange; rare.
  • adjective [Obs.] magic.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective obsolete Fastidious, particular; demanding a high standard of excellence, difficult to satisfy.
  • adjective Inquisitive; tending to ask questions, investigate, or explore.
  • adjective Prompted by curiosity.
  • adjective unusual; odd; out of the ordinary; bizarre

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

  • adjective beyond or deviating from the usual or expected
  • adjective having curiosity aroused; eagerly interested in learning more
  • adjective eager to investigate and learn or learn more (sometimes about others' concerns)


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

[Middle English, from Old French curios, from Latin cūriōsus, careful, inquisitive, from cūra, care; see cure.]



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  • I recall a line from Walt Whitman's poem "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" (1859), set to music by Frederick Delius in "Sea Drift" --

    ... And every day I, a curious boy, never too close, never disturbing them, Cautiously peering, absorbing, translating.

    (them - a pair of nesting sea birds)

    June 3, 2012

  • "All things counter, original, spare, strange" (Gerard Manley Hopkins: Pied Beauty) presents us with four perfectly selected synonyms of curious.

    June 3, 2012