curtain

curtainless, adj.
/kerr"tn/, n.
1. a hanging piece of fabric used to shut out the light from a window, adorn a room, increase privacy, etc.
2. a movable or folding screen used for similar purposes.
3. Chiefly New Eng. a window shade.
4. Theat.
a. a set of hanging drapery for concealing all or part of the stage or set from the view of the audience.
b. the act or time of raising or opening a curtain at the start of a performance: an 8:30 curtain.
c. the end of a scene or act indicated by the closing or falling of a curtain: first-act curtain.
d. an effect, line, or plot solution at the conclusion of a performance: a strong curtain; weak curtain.
e. music signaling the end of a radio or television performance.
f. (used as a direction in a script of a play to indicate that a scene or act is concluded.)
5. anything that shuts off, covers, or conceals: a curtain of artillery fire.
6. Archit. a relatively flat or featureless extent of wall between two pavilions or the like.
7. Fort. the part of a wall or rampart connecting two bastions, towers, or the like.
8. curtains, Slang. the end; death, esp. by violence: It looked like curtains for another mobster.
9. draw the curtain on or over,
a. to bring to a close: to draw the curtain on a long career of public service.
b. to keep secret.
10. lift the curtain on,
a. to commence; start.
b. to make known or public; disclose: to lift the curtain on a new scientific discovery.
v.t.
11. to provide, shut off, conceal, or adorn with, or as if with, a curtain.
[1250-1300; ME co(u)rtine < AF, OF < LL cortina, prob. equiv. to co(ho)rt- (s. of cohors; see COURT) + -ina -INE1, as calque of Gk aulaía curtain, deriv. of aulé courtyard]
Syn. 1. drapery, portiere, lambrequin, valance. 1, 3. CURTAIN, BLIND, SHADE, SHUTTER agree in being covers for a window, to shut out light or keep persons from looking in. CURTAIN, BLIND, and SHADE may mean a cover, usually of cloth, which can be rolled up and down inside the window. CURTAIN, however, may also refer to a drapery at a window; and a Venetian BLIND consists of slats mounted on tapes for drawing up or down and varying the pitch of the slats. BLIND and SHUTTER may mean a cover made of two wooden frames with movable slats, attached by hinges outside a window and pulled together or opened at will. SHUTTERS may mean also a set of panels (wooden or iron) put up outside small shops or stores at closing time.
Regional Variation. 3. See window shade.

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Panel of decorative fabric hung to regulate the admission of light at a window and to prevent drafts.

Curtains made of a heavy material, arranged to fall in ornamental folds to the floor, are called draperies. Mosaics from the 2nd–6th century show curtains suspended from rods spanning arches. From the Middle Ages to the 19th century, curtains ranged in style from simple to ornamented; beds were often curtained on all sides. In the 20th century, synthetic fabrics and mechanical devices for opening and closing curtains simplified their installation and use.

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 in interior design, decorative fabric commonly hung to regulate the admission of light at windows and to prevent drafts from door or window openings. Curtains, usually of a heavy material, arranged to fall straight in ornamental folds are also called draperies. Portieres are heavy curtains hung in a doorway.

      From the evidence of excavations at Olynthus, Pompeii, and Herculaneum, portieres appear to have been used as room dividers in classical antiquity. Mosaics of the Early Christian period (c. 2nd–6th century AD) show curtains suspended from rods spanning arches.

      In medieval illuminated manuscripts, curtains are shown knotted or looped up at doorways. Until the end of the Middle Ages, window openings were covered with utilitarian wooden shutters or a heavy cloth. Beds (bed) were curtained on all sides and covered with a tester, or canopy. By day, when the beds were used as couches and seats, the curtains were neatly looped up in the form of a bag.

      Dutch paintings of the 17th century show simple dwellings in which windows are shaded with half- or full-length curtains, and beds are curtained with plain fabrics, some of them undoubtedly homespun and woven, and probably of wool. In Italy beds, which were placed in alcoves, were furnished with curtains of rich velvet and damask.

      In France, during the reign of Louis XIV (Louis XIV style), much of the ritual and pomp of court society centred around the monarch's state bedchamber, where the bed furniture included layer upon layer of curtains and valances. During the reign of Louis XV (Louis XV style), bed and matching window curtains were designed in a wide variety of fanciful Rococo forms, laden with ribbons, cords, braid, tassels, and bows.

      In the early 19th century the Directoire style and the Empire style in France and the Regency style in England drew motifs from ancient works, especially Greek and Egyptian. Growing romanticism led to other new fashions inspired by styles as geographically remote as those of India and the Orient or as remote in time as the Gothic. The tops of single windows were ornamented by carved birds or bunches of grapes that held up the drapery. The bay of several full-length windows was spanned by a stiff valance with separate curtains falling to the floor. Plain, light-coloured silks were preferred, since they could be hung to good effect in swags and loops.

      In the Victorian age eclecticism carried curtain design to an extreme. Doors and windows were heavily filtered by portieres and curtains that further confined the already crowded rooms, busy with floral and scroll patterns on the walls, carpets, and upholstery.

      The major 20th-century innovation in curtain fabric was the use of synthetics such as fibreglass (for its insulating qualities) and polyester (for its washability). Mechanical systems for drawing and closing curtains simplified their installation and use.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • curtain — [kʉrt′ n] n. [ME & OFr cortine < LL(Ec) cortina, lit. a cauldron, enclosing circle of a theater, curtain (< IE base * (s)ker , to CURVE); used in Vulg. instead of L cors, cohors (see COURT) to translate Gr aulaia, curtain (esp. in a… …   English World dictionary

  • Curtain — Cur tain (k[^u]r t[i^]n; 48), n. [OE.cortin, curtin,fr. OF. cortine, curtine, F. courtine, LL. cortina, curtian (in senses 1 and 2), also, small court, small inclosure surrounded by walls, from cortis court. See {Court}.] [1913 Webster] 1. A… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • curtain — (n.) c.1300, from O.Fr. cortine curtain, tapestry, drape, blanket, from L.L. cortina curtain, but in classical Latin round vessel, cauldron, from L. cortem (older cohortem) enclosure, courtyard (see COHORT (Cf. cohort)). The confusion apparently… …   Etymology dictionary

  • curtain — ► NOUN 1) a piece of material suspended at the top to form a screen, hung at a window in pairs or between the stage and auditorium of a theatre. 2) (the curtain) the rise or fall of a stage curtain between acts or scenes. 3) (curtains) informal a …   English terms dictionary

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  • Curtain — Cur tain, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Curtained} (k[^u]r t[i^]nd; 48); p. pr. & vb. n. {Curtaining}.] To inclose as with curtains; to furnish with curtains. [1913 Webster] So when the sun in bed Curtained with cloudy red. Milton. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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