Help Wordnik hunt for a million missing words by backing our Kickstarter!


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

  • n. Law The enclosed area immediately surrounding a house or dwelling.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. the area immediately surrounding a house. Contains either no roof, or areas within the roof to see inside.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A yard, courtyard, or piece of ground, included within the fence surrounding a dwelling house.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In law, the area of land occupied by a dwelling and its yard and outbuildings, and inclosed, or deemed as if inclosed, for their better use and enjoyment.

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

  • n. the enclosed land around a house or other building


Middle English, from Old French courtillage, from courtil, diminutive of cort, court; see court.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old French cortillage, curtillage, from cortil court, courtyard, Latin cortis court. See court. (Wiktionary)


  • The courts have long held that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their homes and in the "curtilage," a fancy legal term for the area around the home. Top Stories

  • a warrant to enter the suspect's driveway, part of the traditionally protected area around the home known as the "curtilage," because he had not put up a fence.

    Libertarian Blog Place

  • Greenwood, which would allow searches, but the analogy is still flawed as the materials in question are not relinquished until asked for by the government agent as opposed to entrusted to a third party first and willingly left out in public the dissent in Greenwood stated that the garbage could not have been searched inside the curtilage or if in personal possession of the defendant in public.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » The Internet, The Fourth Amendment, and Technology Neutrality: A Response to Horowitz

  • It beggars belief that the Ministry charged with supervising the upkeep of a laboratory that handles virulent pathogens capable of destroying our livestock industry if mishandled should have been so derelict in its duties that the highly damaging foot & mouth virus was able to escape from its curtilage into the surrounding countryside.

    Archive 2008-03-09

  • If a cross is burned on the front lawn of an African-American family, a crime that is cognizable and punishable at law as inter alia trespass, arson, criminal mischief, vandalism, perhaps even burglary (via a common law curtilage theory), a judge may and should take into consideration a number of factors.

    Lionel: I Hate Hate Crimes

  • In drawing Gates out into the curtilage of his home, is the officer still trespassing as he definitely lacks any probable cause to remain on the premises?

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Arrest of Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.:

  • It only needs a careless technician to decide to relieve himself on the way home within the farm's curtilage for this highly infectious disease to be on the move.

    Archive 2007-07-29

  • On one occasion they entered the curtilage of my boarding house, about fifteen or twenty in all, each very obviously the worse for wear.

    Archive 2007-08-12

  • The law itself is a braying donkey in these matters, but the apparent willingness of the police to slavishly follow the dictates of a Gramsci-inspired government and turn the tables on an innocent and well-intentioned medic questioning the behaviour of a boorish Volvo driver in the curtilage of the hospital he works in, exceeds even the worst nightmare of Eric Arthur Blair and is indeed beyond belief.

    On Thursday, the Legg report will be published along with...

  • Law A dwelling house, with the adjacent buildings and curtilage, and the adjoining lands appropriated to the use of the household.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "Justice Antonin Scalia said a person has the Fourth Amendment right to be free from the government's gaze inside their home and in the area surrounding it, which is called the curtilage."

    March 26, 2013

  • JM has a small courtyard but when he refers to it as the curtilage it seems so much bigger!

    August 17, 2009