Etymology
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curtain (n.)

c. 1300, curtine, "hanging screen of textile fabric used to close an opening or shut out light, enclose a bed, or decorate an altar," from Old French cortine "curtain, tapestry, drape, blanket," from Late Latin cortina "curtain," but in classical Latin "round vessel, cauldron," from Latin cortem (older cohortem) "enclosure, courtyard" (see cohort).

The meaning shift apparently begins with cortina being used as a loan-translation of Greek aulaia ("curtain") in the Vulgate (to render Hebrew yeriah in Exodus xxvi:1, etc.). The Greek word was connected to aule "court," perhaps because the "door" that led out to the courtyard of a Greek house was a hung cloth.

Figuratively from early 15c. as "something that conceals or screens." From 1590s as "large sheet used to conceal the stage in a theater." Many of the figurative senses are from stage plays: Behind the curtain "concealed" is from 1670s; curtains "the end" is by 1912. The theatrical curtain call "appearance of individual performers on stage at the end of a performance to be recognized by the audience" is from 1884. To draw the curtain is from c. 1500 in opposite senses: "to conceal," and "to reveal." Curtain-rod is from c. 1500. An Old English word for "curtain" was fleonet "fly-net."

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curtain (v.)

c. 1300, "to enclose with or as if with a curtain," from Old French cortiner, from cortine (see curtain (n.)). Related: Curtained.

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iron curtain (n.)

1794, the name of a fire-protection device to be used in theaters, a literal iron curtain; see iron (n.) + curtain (n.).

The new and exquisitely beautiful theatre of Drury-lane has the peculiar contrivance of an iron-curtain to secure the audience from all danger, in case of fire on the stage. Miss Farren, in the occasional epilogue, delivered on opening this new theatre, pleasantly informs the spectators that, should flames burst out in the part appropriated to the representation, they may comfort themselves with thinking that nothing can be burnt but the scenery and the actors. [The Monthly Review, June 1794]

From 1819 in the figurative sense "impenetrable barrier." In reference to the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe, famously coined by Winston Churchill March 5, 1946, in speech at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, but it had been used earlier in this context (for example by U.S. bureaucrat Allen W. Dulles at a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations, Dec. 3, 1945). The phrase had been used in the sense of "barrier at the edge of the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union" from 1920. During World War II, Goebbels used it in German (ein eiserner Vorhang) in the same sense. But its popular use in the U.S. dates from Churchill's speech.

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velum (n.)
"the soft palate," 1771, from Latin velum "a sail, awning, curtain, covering" (see veil (n.)).
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purdah (n.)

1800, in India, "a curtain serving to screen women from the sight of men or strangers," from Urdu and Persian pardah "veil, curtain," from Old Persian pari "around, over" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, against, around") + da- "to place" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").

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bamboo (n.)
type of giant grass common in the tropics, 1590s, from Dutch bamboe and/or Portuguese bambu, earlier mambu (16c.), probably from Malay (Austronesian) samambu, though some suspect this is itself an imported word, perhaps from Kanarese (Dravidian). Bamboo curtain in reference to communist China (based on iron curtain) is from 1949.
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vexillology (n.)
"study of flags," 1959, from Latin vexillum "flag, military ensign, banner" (from velum "a sail, curtain, veil; see veil (n.)) + -ology.
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veil (n.)
c. 1200, "nun's head covering," from Anglo-French and Old North French veil (12c., Modern French voile) "a head-covering," also "a sail, a curtain," from Latin vela, plural of velum "sail, curtain, covering," from PIE root *weg- (1) "to weave a web." Vela was mistaken in Vulgar Latin for a feminine singular noun. To take the veil "become a nun" is attested from early 14c.
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proscenium (n.)

c. 1600, "stage of an ancient theater," from Latin proscaenium, from Greek proskēnion "the space in front of the scenery," also "entrance of a tent," from pro "in front, before" (see pro-) + skēnē "stage, tent, booth" (see scene). Modern sense of "space between the curtain and the orchestra" (often including the curtain and its framework) is attested from 1807. Hence, figuratively, "foreground, front" (1640s).

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portiere (n.)

curtain hung at the doorway or entrance to a room," 1843, from French portière, which is formed in French from porte "door," or from Medieval Latin portaria, fem. singular of Latin portarius "belonging to a door or gate," from porta "city gate, gate; door, entrance," from PIE root *per- (2) "to lead, pass over."

A curtain hung at a doorway, or entrance to a room, either with the door or to replace it, to intercept the view or currents of air, etc., when the door is opened, or for mere decoration. [Century Dictionary] 
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