Definition of curfew in English:



  • 1A regulation requiring people to remain indoors between specified hours, typically at night.

    ‘a dusk-to-dawn curfew’
    mass noun ‘the whole area was immediately placed under curfew’
    • ‘The lists of candidates, their names and manifestos, were all but invisible and a strict curfew was imposed.’
    • ‘Police introduced an overnight curfew on Thursday in Colombo and have tightened security measures throughout city.’
    • ‘He enforced strict rules: a nightly curfew and a mandate to earn top grades in high school.’
    • ‘The standoff ceased with the advent of the midnight curfew.’
    • ‘All she needed was a midnight curfew and glass slippers and she would be set.’
    • ‘They arrested something like 300 people last night for curfew violations.’
    • ‘There is normally a 7pm - 7am curfew and prisoners are monitored with an electronic tagging device.’
    • ‘He was given a conditional sentence, which avoids jail time, but enforces daily curfews in his home.’
    • ‘Youth justices put him under a three-month nightly curfew and on a nine-month supervision order aimed at tackling his alcoholism.’
    • ‘Ever since I broke curfew, I showed no promise of learning my lesson.’
    • ‘All exits from the city were totally blocked from the morning and an indefinite curfew was imposed from 6pm.’
    • ‘He took full 24 hours before doing so and clamping curfew in some areas.’
    • ‘Police are also patrolling the city and have slapped a night-time curfew on the city.’
    • ‘As with many parks around the city, a midnight curfew is imposed.’
    • ‘We saw them lifting an overnight curfew that had been in place also since April when the old regime fell.’
    • ‘Together they agree to break the curfew to show me how people are coping.’
    • ‘Today it is still heavily guarded, with numerous checkpoints and a nighttime curfew.’
    • ‘He was posted in the marketplace area of the city, enforcing the curfew.’
    • ‘There was an overnight curfew and a requirement to report twice a day to the authorities.’
    • ‘He gets half way across town before the cop patrolling his neighborhood pulls him over for curfew violation.’
    1. 1.1 The hour designated as the beginning of a curfew.
      mass noun ‘to be abroad after curfew without permission was to risk punishment’
      • ‘By that time, the male was already at his home, having managed to cook up an excuse for breaking the midnight curfew.’
      • ‘You remember the feeling: You had a midnight curfew, but your friends were free to roam wild until dawn.’
      • ‘He had regained her trust the night before, after telling her of numerous time that she had let him back into the boarding house when he had returned after curfew.’
      • ‘Do you remember how mad they were when we were an hour past curfew last year?’
      • ‘Her parents had given her a curfew of midnight, so she had heaps of time.’
      • ‘My curfew was usually midnight, but not for dates.’
      • ‘It was past my curfew and I could tell that I looked panicked because of the face Jake was making.’
      • ‘When Mom and Dad are home, our curfew is midnight.’
      • ‘The neighbours, he recalls, allowed him to play until a daily curfew of 10 pm.’
      • ‘He walks further until one o'clock in the morning (past the curfew for apprentices) and ends up in the graveyard in Copp's Hill.’
      • ‘Your curfew is at midnight unless otherwise noted.’
      • ‘‘Yes,’ he said softly, nuzzling the back of her neck as the final bell rang in the distance, marking curfew.’
      • ‘The camp compensated by making a later curfew for those on time off.’
      • ‘And even if I returned past the curfew, my parents didn't mind too much.’
    2. 1.2 The daily signal indicating the beginning of a curfew.
      ‘they had to return before the curfew sounded’
      • ‘The execution was to take place at the ringing of the evening curfew bell.’
      • ‘It wasn't long until the curfew bang sounded and we were shuffled out once again.’


Middle English (denoting a regulation requiring people to extinguish fires at a fixed hour in the evening, or a bell rung at that hour): from Old French cuevrefeu, from cuvrir ‘to cover’ + feu ‘fire’. The current sense dates from the late 19th century.