Definitions

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

  • noun A gesture of respect or reverence made chiefly by women by bending the knees with one foot forward and lowering the body.
  • intransitive verb To make a curtsy.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Same as courtesy.
  • noun Same as courtesy, 3.

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

  • noun Alternative spelling of curtsey.

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

  • noun bending the knees; a gesture of respect made by women
  • verb make a curtsy; usually done only by girls and women; as a sign of respect
  • verb bend the knees in a gesture of respectful greeting

Etymologies

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

[Variant of courtesy.]

Examples

  • He is not ashamed to commend Mlle. X., who has only had a curtsy to make, if her curtsy has been the ideal curtsy of the situation; and he is not afraid to overhaul M. A., who has delivered the tirade of the play, if M. A., has failed to hit the mark.

    The Théâtre Francais

  • I never could enter the Rotunda in the Paris menagerie, without being furnished with bread or carrots for its inhabitants: the instant the Indian elephant caught sight of me, he used to sit down, get up again, make what was called a curtsy, and play other antics; and the instant I came before him, squat down again; his trunk raised, and his enormous mouth wide open to receive what I threw into it; the attitude was so grotesque and imploring, that it was impossible to deny him.

    Anecdotes of the Habits and Instinct of Animals

  • The young Elizabeth, the one who would be queen, whispers to her sister Margaret, "curtsy".

    David A. Davis: Why 'Homage'? The Story Of Epiphany

  • As long as she behaved respectfully, Americans shouldn't "curtsy" and grovel before foreign potentates.

    Michelle Obama just got more popular than Barack.

  • She began to leap from side to side, flinging herself down in a kind of curtsy and springing up again with extraordinary agility, in spite of the long longyi that imprisoned her feet.

    Burmese Days

  • "Aluteyn spun us an illusion of dryness!" this personage declaimed, executing a kind of curtsy that ended just short of his pitching over the rail into the arena.

    The Golden Torc

  • "Charmed to meet you," said Mrs. Pickering again, giving a kind of curtsy and smiling at Lady Gertrude.

    Bird of Paradise

  • "It will also be easier to gain access to low and tight places with the machine, thanks to its ability to 'curtsy'," the company said.

    Wired Top Stories

  • Did it make any sense at all to bark “Good day!” into an inert device, and without so much as an accompanying tip of the hat or quick curtsy?

    The English Is Coming!

  • Did it make any sense at all to bark “Good day!” into an inert device, and without so much as an accompanying tip of the hat or quick curtsy?

    The English Is Coming!

Comments

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  • I don't hate this word on principle. Rather, I hate this word when it is abused by my college educated boss when he really means "curt." As in, "there is no need to be all curtsy with me."

    October 15, 2009