Definition of curtain lecture in English:

curtain lecture


  • An instance of a wife reprimanding her husband in private.

    • ‘Excellent quotation, but remember that the curtain lecture is on the advantages of poverty, as well as the true provenance of gentility.’
    • ‘If the curtain-lecture on "gentillesse" [and poverty] is uncharacteristic and even somewhat effete in contrast to the celebration of the flesh and the world to be found in the Prologue, there is, on the other hand, the (edited) story of Midas, with its brazen acknowledgment of anti-feminist accusations.’
    • ‘Here are microcultural tales of pirates and robbers, blanket fairs (people climbing into bed together to talk before going to sleep), curtain lectures (wives who felt emboldened by the dark to complain to their recumbent husbands) and night-kings (sewer cleaners in Germany).’
    • ‘As a journalist he worked for Punch magazine in which Mrs Caudle’s Curtain Lectures were serialised, to be published in book form in 1846.’
    • ‘This, however, was all mere scandal, founded perhaps on her occasionally flourishing a broomstick in the course of a curtain lecture, or raising a storm within doors, as termagant wives are apt to do.’


Mid 17th century: originally a reprimand given behind bed curtains.