curl (v.)

late 14c. (implied in curled), "turn, bend, form in ringlets" (transitive), a metathesized formation corresponding to the Middle English adjective crull, crulle (c. 1300), which is probably from an unrecorded Old English word or from Middle Dutch krul "curly," from Proto-Germanic *krusl- (source also of East Frisian krull "lock of hair," Middle High German krol, Norwegian krull, Danish krølle "curl").

Intransitive sense of "take the form of a curl, assume a spiral shape" is from 1520s (originally of hair). Meaning "to play at curling" is from 1715.  Related: Curled; curling.

curl (n.)

c. 1600, "a ringlet of hair;" by 1610s in reference to anything of similar spiral or undulating form; from curl (v.). Surfer slang for "curved top of a breaking wave" is by 1962.

updated on June 07, 2018

Definitions of curl from WordNet
curl (v.)
form a curl, curve, or kink;
the cigar smoke curled up at the ceiling
Synonyms: curve / kink
curl (v.)
shape one's body into a curl;
She curled farther down under the covers
Synonyms: curl up / draw in
curl (v.)
wind around something in coils or loops;
Synonyms: coil / loop
curl (v.)
twist or roll into coils or ringlets;
curl my hair, please
Synonyms: wave
curl (v.)
play the Scottish game of curling;
curl (n.)
a round shape formed by a series of concentric circles (as formed by leaves or flower petals);
Synonyms: coil / whorl / roll / curlicue / ringlet / gyre / scroll
curl (n.)
a strand or cluster of hair;
Synonyms: lock / ringlet / whorl
Curl (n.)
American chemist who with Richard Smalley and Harold Kroto discovered fullerenes and opened a new branch of chemistry (born in 1933);
Synonyms: Robert Curl / Robert F. Curl / Robert Floyd Curl Jr.
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.