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

  • noun A light leap by a horse, in which both hind legs leave the ground just before the forelegs are set down.
  • intransitive verb To leap in a curvet.
  • intransitive verb To prance; frolic.
  • intransitive verb To cause to leap in a curvet.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In the manège, a leap of a horse in which both the fore legs are raised at once and equally advanced, the haunches lowered, and the hind legs brought forward, the horse springing as the fore legs are falling, so that all his legs are in the air at once.
  • noun Figuratively, a prank; a frolic.
  • To leap in a curvet; prance.
  • To leap and frisk.
  • To cause to make a curvet; cause to make an upward spring.

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

  • noun (Man.) A particular leap of a horse, when he raises both his fore legs at once, equally advanced, and, as his fore legs are falling, raises his hind legs, so that all his legs are in the air at once.
  • noun A prank; a frolic.
  • intransitive verb To make a curvet; to leap; to bound.
  • intransitive verb To leap and frisk; to frolic.
  • transitive verb To cause to curvet.

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

  • verb of a horse To leap about, frolic.

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

  • verb perform a leap where both hind legs come off the ground, of a horse
  • noun a light leap by a horse in which both hind legs leave the ground before the forelegs come down


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

[Italian corvetta, from Old Italian, from Old French courbette, from courber, to curve, from Latin curvāre, from curvus, curved; see sker- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Italian corvetta, diminutive of corva, an early form of curva ‘curve’, from Latin curva feminine of curvus ‘bent, curved’.


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  • I can see my husband riding the margins of the field, talking to his land steward, and I kick Arthur into a rolling canter and come up to him in a rush that makes his own horse sidle and curvet in the mud.

    The Red Queen Philippa Gregory 2010

  • Theogine's horse in Heliodorus [4846] curvet, prance, and go so proudly, exultans alacriter et superbiens, &c., but that such as mine author supposeth, he was in love with his master? dixisses ipsum equum pulchrum intelligere pulchram domini fomam?

    Anatomy of Melancholy 2007

  • But gaining in speed; and gaining on him, slicing toward him in a wide curvet like hounds let loose on the side of a meadow, and he the fox already moving broadly down its middle.

    Son of a Witch Maguire, Gregory 2005

  • The others laughed, one pulled hard on the reins, making his broad-shouldered mount snort and curvet.

    The Lioness Berberick, Nancy Varian 2002

  • To see thee curvet, and mount like a dog in a blanket,

    The Mirror of Taste, and Dramatic Censor, Vol. I, No. 4, April 1810

  • At least I imagined so this morning, with our craft "upon a wind," whilst standing in the weather gangway, and watching her plunge and curvet, held up to her course by the helm, as a steed by a curb, obeying its rider; but I did not think the motion as agreeable as that derived from equestrian exercise.

    Kathay: A Cruise in the China Seas W. Hastings Macaulay

  • English ideas the _pollo_ is more objectionable there than elsewhere, since his idea of riding is to show off the antics of a horse specially taught and made to prance about and curvet while he sits it, his legs sticking out in the position of the Colossus of Rhodes, his heels, armed with spurs, threatening catastrophe to the other riders.

    Spanish Life in Town and Country L. Higgin

  • The girls came out of the cottage doors to look at him, as he made the fiery little beast curvet and prance along the road; and he was evidently not insensible to the looks of admiration of these young ladies, as they muffled up their faces in their blue rebozos and looked at him through the narrow opening.

    Anahuac : or, Mexico and the Mexicans, Ancient and Modern Edward Burnett Tylor

  • The pad began to curvet as the post horses rattled behind, and the Parson had only an indistinct vision of a human face supplanting these human legs.

    The International Monthly, Volume 3, No. 1, April, 1851 Various

  • Protestants: Horse-coursers jades will bound, curvet and shew more tricks, then a horse well mettled for the rode or cart.

    A Coal From The Altar, To Kindle The Holy Fire of Zeale In a Sermon Preached at a Generall Visitation at Ipswich Samuel Ward


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  • Citation on skittishly.

    July 26, 2008

  • Down on the maidan flights of small, low-flying brown doves chased one another to and fro, and bee-eaters, emerald-green, curvetted like slow swallows.

    - George Orwell, Burmese Days

    September 19, 2008