1. A regulation or rule requiring certain or all people to leave the streets or be at home at a prescribed hour.
a. The time at which such a restriction begins or is in effect: a 10 PM curfew for all residents.
b. The signal, such as a bell, announcing the beginning of this restriction.
[Middle English curfeu, from Old French cuevrefeu : covrir, to cover; see COVER + feu, fire (from Latin focus, hearth).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.