One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Shortened, abridged, or curtailed.‘the curtal frock of sunbright cotton’
- ‘A ‘curtal [shortened] sonnet’ (G.M. Hopkins) consists of a sestet followed by a quatrain and a half-line tailpiece.’
A dulcian or bassoon of the late 16th to early 18th century.
- ‘The curtal was created by "folding" the shawm in half.’
- ‘Anyone who blew you away with their chops on cornetto, curtal or theorbo?’
- ‘The lowest of the four orchestral woodwinds, it was developed from the Renaissance curtal or dulcian in the mid-17th century as part of the general reconstruction of all woodwind instruments that took place in France.’
- ‘The result is a programme of genuine old fashioned carols, songs and dances, performed on shawms, sackbut, recorders, flutes, curtals, lutes, guitars, harp, bagpipes and the hurdy-gurdy.’
- ‘The new instrument was called either a curtal or a dulcian in England, and it became very popular as a general purpose bass instrument, even in refined settings where the higher shawms were considered inappropriate.’
Late 15th century (denoting a short-barrelled cannon): from French courtault, from court ‘short’ + the pejorative suffix -ault. In both English and French the noun denoted various items characterized by something short, especially an animal with a docked tail, which probably gave rise to the adjective sense.
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