Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



CURSITOR, n. [L., to run.] In England, a clerk in the court of chancery, whose business is to make out original writs. In the statute 18 Edward III, the cursitors are called clerks of course. They are twenty four in number, and are a corporation among themselves. To each are assigned certain counties, to which he issue writs.

CURSIVE, a. [See Course and Current.] Running; flowing. Cursive hand is a running hand.

CURSORARY, a. Cursory; hasty. [Not in use.]

CURSORILY, a. [See Cursory.] In a running or hasty manner; slightly; hastily; without attention; as, I read the paper cursorily.

CURSORINESS, n. Slight view or attention.

CURSORY, a. [L. See Course.]

1. Running; hasty; slight; superficial; careless; not with close attention; as a cursory reading; a cursory view.

2. Running about; not stationary.

CURST, pp. of curse. [See Cursed.]

CURST, a. Hateful; detestable; froward; tormenting; vexatious; peevish; malignant; mischievous; malicious; snarling; a word however which can be hardly said to have a definite signification. It is applied to any thing vexatious. In some of its applications in old authors, ti appears to be the Dutch korst, crust, and to signify crusty, crabbed, surly.

CURSTNESS, n. Peevishness; malignity; frowardness; crabbedness; surliness.

CURT, a. [L.] Short. [Rarely used, and not elegant.]

CURTAIL, v.t. [L., to cut; edge.] To shorten; to cut off the end or a part; as, to curtail words. Hence in a more general sense, to shorten in any manner; to abridge; to diminish; as, to curtail our privileges. It is followed by of before the thing shortened. His name was curtailed of three letters. We are curtailed of our rights.

CURTAIL-DOG, n. A dog whose tail is cut off, according to the forest laws, and therefore hindered from coursing.

CURTAILED, pp. Cut short or shorter; abridged.

CURTAILING, ppr. Cutting short or shorter; abridging.

CURTAILING, n. Abridgment; abbreviation.

CURTAIN, n. [Low L., in fortification. This word may be from the root of court, and from the sense of separating.]

1. A cloth hanging round a bed, or at a window, which may be contracted, spread or drawn aside at pleasure; intended for ornament, or for use. Also, the hangings about the ark, among the Israelites.

2. A cloth-hanging used in theaters, to conceal the stage from the spectators. This is raised or let down by cords. Hence the phrases, to drop the curtain, to close the scene, to end; to raise the curtain or the curtain will rise, to denote the opening of the play. And to draw the curtain, is to close it, to shut out the light or to conceal an object; or to open it and disclose the object. Behind the curtain, in concealment, in secret.

3. In fortification, that part of the rampart which is between the flanks of two bastions, bordered with a parapet five feet high, behind which the soldiers stand to fire on the covered way and into the moat.

4. In scripture, tents; dwellings. Habakkuk 3:7.

CURTAIN, v.t. To inclose with curtains; to furnish with curtains.

CURTAIN-LECTURE, n. Reproof given in bed by a wife to her husband.

CURTAL, n. A horse with a docked tail.

CURTAL, a. Short; abridged; brief.

CURTATE, a. [L., to shorten.] The curtate distance, in astronomy, is the distance of a planet from the sun to that point, where a perpendicular let fall from the planet meets with the ecliptic. Or the interval between the sun or earth, and that point where a perpendicular, let fall from the planet, meets the ecliptic.

CURTATION, n. [See Curtate.] The interval between a planets distance from the sun and the curtate distance.

CURTILAGE, n. In law, a yard, garden, inclosure or field near and belonging to a messuage. [This is probably from court or the same radix.]

CURTLY, adv. Briefly. [Not in use.]

CURULE, a. [L., a chariot.] Belonging to a chariot. The curule chair or seat, among the Romans, was a stool without a back, covered with leather, and so made as to be folded. It was conveyed in a chariot, and used by public officers.

CURVATED, a. [See Curve.] Curved; bent in a regular form.

CURVATURE, n. [L. See Curve.] A bending in a regular form; crookedness, or the manner of bending; flexure by which a curve is formed.

CURVE, a. [L., bent, crooked; to bend, turn or wind.] Bending; crooked; inflected in a regular form, and forming part of a circle; as a curve line, which may be cut by a right line in more points than one. A curve line is that which is neither a straight line, nor composed of straight lines.

CURVE, n. A bending in a regular form, or without angles; that which is bent; a flexure; part of a circle. In geometry, a line which may be cut by a right line in more points than one.
CURVE, v.t. [L.] To bend; to crook; to inflect.

CURVED, pp. Bent; regularly inflected.


1. In the manege, a particular leap of a horse, when he raises both his fore legs at one, equally advanced, and as his fore legs are falling, he raises his hind legs, so that all his lets are raised at once.

2. A prank; a frolic.

CURVET, v.i.

1. To leap; to bound; to spring and form a curvet.

2. To leap and frisk.

CURVILINEAR, CURVILINEAL, a. [L., bent and a line.] Having a curve line; consisting of curve lines; bounded by curve lines; as a curvilinear figure.

CURVILINEARITY, n. The state of being curvilinear, or of consisting in curve lines.

CURVING, ppr. Bending in a regular form; crooked.

CURVITY, n. [L.] A bending in a regular form; crookedness.

CUSHAT, n. The ring-dove or wood-pigeon.


1. A pillow for a seat; a soft pad to be placed on a chair; a bag, stuffed with wool, hair or other soft material.

2. A bag of leather filled with sand, used by engravers to support the plate.

3. In gilding, a stuffing of fine tow or wool, covered by leather, on a board; used for receiving the leaves of gold from the paper, in order to its being cut into proper sizes and figures.

Ladys cushion, a plant, a species of saxifraga.

Sea cushion, sea pink or thrift, a species of Statice.

CUSHION, v.t. To seat on a cushion.

CUSHIONED, a. Seated on a cushion; supported by cushions.

CUSHIONET, n. A little cushion.

CUSKIN, n. A kind of ivory cup. [Not in use.]

CUSP, n. [L., a point.] The point or horn of the moon or other luminary.

CUSPATED, a. [L., a point.] Pointed; ending in a point.

CUSPIDAL, a. Ending in a point.

CUSPIDATE, CUSPIDATED, a. [L., a point.] Having a sharp end, like the point of a spear; terminating in a bristly point; as a cuspidate leaf.

CUSTARD, n. A composition of milk and eggs, sweetened and baked or boiled, forming an agreeable kind of food.

CUSTARD-APPLE, n. A plant, a species of Annona, growing in the West Indies, whose fruit is of the size of a tennis ball, of an orange color, containing a yellowish pulp, of the consistence of custard.

CUSTODIAL, a. [from custody.] Relating to custody or guardianship.

CUSTODY, n. [L., a watchman, a keeper. See Chaste.]

1. A keeping; a guarding; care, watch, inspection, for keeping, preservation or security.

Under the custody and charge of the sons of Merari shall be the boards of the tabernacle. Numbers 3:36.

The prisoner was committed to the custody of the sheriff.

2. Imprisonment; confinement; restraint of liberty.

3. Defense from a foe; preservation; security.

There was prepared a fleet of thirty ships for the custody of the narrow seas.

CUSTOM, n. [L.]

1. Frequent or common use, or practice; a frequent repetition o the same act; hence, way; established manner; habitual practice.

The priests’ custom with the people was--- 1 Samuel 2:13.

We have no such custom. 1 Corinthians 11:16.

The customs of the people are vain. Jeremiah 10:3.

2. A buying of goods; practice of frequenting a shop and purchasing or procuring to be done.

Let him have your custom, but not your votes.

The shopkeeper has extensive custom, or a good run of custom. A mill or a manufacturer has extensive custom, or little custom.

3. In law, long established practice, or usage, which constitutes the unwritten law, and long consent to which gives it authority. Customs are general, which extend over a state or kingdom, and particular, which are limited to a city or district.

CUSTOM, v.t.

1. To make familiar. [See Accustom, which is the word used.]

2. To give custom to.

CUSTOM, n. Tribute, toll or tax; that is, cost or charge paid to the public.

Render custom to whom custom is due. Romans 13:7.

Customs, in the plural, the duties imposed by law on merchandize imported or exported. IN Great Britain and the United States, this word is limited to these species of duties.

CUSTOM-HOUSE, n. The house where vessel enter and clear, and where the customs are paid or secured to be paid.


1. Common; habitual; frequent.

2. Subject to the payment of the duties called customs.

CUSTOMABLENESS, n. Frequency; conformity to custom. [Little used.]

CUSTOMABLY, adv. According to custom; in a customary manner.

CUSTOMARILY, adv. [See Customary.] Habitually; commonly.

CUSTOMARINESS, n. Frequency; commonness; habitual use or practice.


1. According to custom, or to established or common usage; as a customary dress; customary compliments.

2. Habitual; in common practice; as customary vices.

3. Holding by custom; as customary tenants, who are copyholders.

4. Held by custom; as a customary freehold.

CUSTOMARY, n. A book containing laws and usages, or customs; as the customary of the Normans.


1. Usual; common; to which we are accustomed. [See Accustomed.]

2. Furnished with customers.


1. One who frequents any place of sale for the sake of purchasing goods; one who purchases goods or wares.

2. One who frequents or visits any place for procuring what he wants. We say, a mill has many customers. Hence a person who receives supplies is called a customer; the smith, the shoemaker and the tailor have their customers; and the coffee-house has its customers.

3. A toll-gatherer.

CUSTOS, n. [L.] A keeper; as custos brevium, the principal clerk of the common pleas; custos rotulorum, keeper of the rolls and records of the sessions of the peace.

CUSTREL, n. A buckler-bearer. Also, a vessel for holding wine. [Not in use.]

CUT, v.t. pret. and prep. cut. [L., to thrust, to drive, to strike.]

1. To separate the parts of any body by an edged instrument, either by striking, as with an ax, or by sawing or rubbing; to make a gash, incision or notch, which separates the external part of a body, as to cut the flesh. It signifies also, to cut into pieces; to sever or divide; as, to cut timber in the forest. But when an entire separation of the body is intended, it is usually followed by off, down, asunder, in two, in pieces, or other word denoting such severance.

Ye shall not cut yourselves, that is, ye shall not gash your flesh. Deuteronomy 14:1.

2. To hew.

Thy servants can skill to cut timber. 2 Chronicles 2:8.

3. To carve, as meat; to carve or engrave in sculpture.

4. To divide; to cleave, by passing through; as, a ship cuts the briny deep.

5. To penetrate; to pierce; to affect deeply; as, a sarcasm cuts to the quick.

6. To divide, as a pack of cards; as, to cut and shuffle.

7. To intersect; to cross. One line cuts another at right angles. The ecliptic cuts the equator.

8. To castrate.

To cut across, to pass by a shorter course, so as to cut off an angle or distance.

To cut asunder, to cut into pieces; to divide; to sever.

He hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked. Psalm 129:4.

To cut down, to fell; to cause to fall by severing.

Ye shall cut down their groves. Exodus 34:13.

Hence, to depress; to abash; to humble; to shame; to silence; as, his eloquence cuts down the finest orator.

[This phrase is not elegant, but is in popular use.]

To cut off,

1. To separate one part from another; as, to cut off a finger, or an arm; to cut off the right hand figure; to cut off a letter or syllable.

2. To destroy; to extirpate; to put to death untimely.

Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord. 1 Kings 18:4.

Evil doers shall be cut off. Psalm 37:9.

3. To separate; to remove to a distance, or to prevent all intercourse. A man in another country or in prison is cut off from his country or his friends.

4. To interrupt; as, to cut off communication.

5. To separate; to remove; to take away; as, to cut off ten years of life.

6. To intercept; to hinder from return, or union. The troops were cut off from the ships.

7. To end; to finish; as, to cut off all controversy.

8. To prevent or preclude; as, to cut off all occasion of blame.

9. To preclude or shut out. The sinner cuts himself off from the benefits of Christianity.

10. To stop, interrupt or silence.

The judge cut off the counsel very short.

To cut on,

1. To hasten; to run or ride with the utmost speed; a vulgar phrase.

2. To urge or drive in striking; to quicken blows; to hasten.

To cut out,

1. To remove a part by cutting or carving; as, to cut out a piece from a board; to cut out the tongue. Hence,

2. To shape or form by cutting; as, to cut out a garment; to cut out an image; to cut out a wood into walks. Hence,

3. To scheme; to contrive; to prepare; as, to cut out word for another day. So we say, to strike out.

4. To shape; to adapt. He is no cut out for an author. [Not elegant.]

5. To debar. [Not common.]

6. To take the preference or precedence of; as, to cut out a prior judgment creditor.

7. To step in and take the place of, as in courting and dancing. [A vulgar phrase.]

8. To interfere as a horse, when the shoe of one foot beats off the skin of the pastern joint of another.

To cut short,

1. To hinder from proceeding by sudden interruption.

Achilles cut him short.

2. To shorten; to abridge; as, to cut short of provisions or pay; to cut the matter short.

To cut up,

1. To cut in pieces; as, to cut up beef.

2. To eradicate; to cut off; as, to cut up shrubs.

CUT, v.i.

1. To pass into or through and sever; to enter and divide the parts; as, an instrument cuts well.

2. To be severed by a cutting instrument; as, this fruit cuts easy or smooth.

3. To divide by passing.

The teeth are ready to cut.

4. To perform a surgical operation by cutting, especially in lithotomy.

He saved lives by cutting for the stone.

5. To interfere, as a horse.

To cut in, to divide, or turn a card, for determining who are to play.

CUT, pp. Gashed; divided; hewn; carved; intersected; pierced; deeply affected; castrated.

Cut and dry, prepared for use; a metaphor from hewn timber.

CUT, n.

1. The action of an edged instrument; a stroke or blow, as with an ax or sword.

2. A cleft; a gash; a notch; a wound; the opening made by an edged instrument, distinguished by its length from that made by perforation with a pointed instrument.

3. A stroke or blow with a whip.

4. A channel made by cutting or digging; a ditch; a groove; a furrow; a canal.

5. A part cut off from the rest; as a good cut of beef; a cut of timber. Also, any small piece or shred.

6. A lot made by cutting a stick; as, to draw cuts.

7. A near passage, by which an angle is cut off; a shorter cut.

8. A picture cut or cared on wood or metal, and impressed from it.

9. The stamp on which a picture is carved, and by which it is impressed.

10. The act of dividing a pack of cards. Also, the right to divide; as, whose cut is it?

11. Manner in which a thing is cut; form; shape; fashion; as the cut of a garment; the cut of his beard.

12. A fool; a cully; a gelding. [Not in use.]

Cut and long tail, men of all kinds; a proverbial expression borrowed from dogs.

CUTANEOUS, a. [See Cuticle.] Belonging to the skin, or cutis; existing on, or affecting the skin; as a cutaneous disease; cutaneous eruption.

CUTH, in Saxon, signifies known, or famous. Hence, Cuthwin, a famous conqueror; Cuthred, a famous or knowing counselor; Cuthbert, known bright, or famous for skill.

CUTICLE, n. [L., skin, the same as hide, which see.]

1. The scarf-skin; the thin exterior coat of the skin, which rises in a blister; a thin pellucid membrane covering the true skin.

2. The thin external covering of the bark of a plant.

3. A thin skin formed on the surface of liquor.

CUTICULAR, a. Pertaining to the cuticle or external coat of the skin.

CUTLAS, n. [L., to cut.] A broad curving sword; a hanger; used by soldiers int he cavalry, by seamen, etc.

CUTLER, n. [L., a knife.] One whose occupation is to make knives and other cutting instruments.

CUTLERY, n. The business of making knives; or more generally, knives and other edged instruments in general.

CUTLET, n. A small piece of meat for cooking; as a veal cutlet.

CUTPURSE, n. [cut and purse.] One who cuts purses for stealing them or their contents; a practice said to have been common when men wore purses at their girdles. One who steals from the person; a thief; a robber.


1. One who cuts or hews.

2. An instrument that cuts; as a straw-cutter.

3. A fore tooth, that cuts meat, as distinguished from a grinder.

4. A small boat used by ships of war. Also, a vessel with one mast and a straight running bowsprit, which may be run in upon deck; rigged nearly like a sloop.

5. An officer int he exchequer that provides wood for the tallies.

6. A ruffian; a bravo; a destroyer.

CUT-THROAT, n. A murderer; an assassin; a ruffian.

CUT-THROAT, a. Murderous; cruel; barbarous.

CUTTING, ppr. [See Cut.]

1. Dividing by an edged instrument; cleaving by the stroke or motion of an edged instrument, as by a knife, ax, or saw; hewing; carving; intersecting; piercing.

2. a. Piercing the heart; wounding the feelings; deeply affecting with shame or remorse; pungent; piquant; satirical; as a cutting reflection.


1. A separation or division; a piece cut off; a ship; as the cuttings of vines.

2. The operation of removing a stone from the bladder.


1. A genus of mollusca, called Sepia. They have small arms, with serrated cups, by which they lay fast hold of any thing. They have also two tentacula longer than the arms; the mouth is int he center of the arms, and is horny, and hooked like the bill of a hawk. They feed on sprats, lobsters and other shell-fish. They have a little bladder under the throat, [near the liver, Cuvier,] from which, when pursued, they throw out a black liquor that darkens the water, by which means they escape. Hence cuttle is used for a foul-mouthed fellow; one who blackens the character of another.

2. A knife. [Not in use.]

CUT-WATER, n. The fore part of a ships prow, or knee of the head, which cuts the water. Also, a water-fowl, a species of gull; or rather, the Rynchops, or razorbill.

CUT-WORK, n. Embroidery. [Not in use.]

CYANITE, n. [Gr. Sky-colored.] A mineral of a berlin blue color, passing into gray and green; called by Hauy, disthene.

CYANOGEN, n. [Gr., blue, and to beget.] Carbureted azote, or carburet of nitrogen, the compound base of Prussic acid; otherwise called Prussine.

CYATHIFORM, a. [L., a cup; Gr.] In the form of a cup, or drinking glass, a little widened at the top.

CYCLADES, n. plu. [Gr., a circle.] A number of isles arranged round the isle of delos, in the Grecian Sea, in the form of a circle.

CYCLE, n. [Gr. L., an orb or circle.]

1. In chronology, a period or series of numbers, which regularly proceed from first to last, and then return to the first, in a perpetual circle. Hence,

2. The cycle of the moon, or golden number, or Metonic cycle, so called from its inventor Meton, is a period of nineteen years, which being completed, the new and full moons return on the same days of the month.

3. The cycle of the sun, is a period of twenty eight years, which having elapsed, the dominical or Sunday letters return to their former place, and proceed in the former order, according to the Julian calendar.

4. Cycle of indiction, a period of fifteen years, at the end of which the Roman emperors imposed an extraordinary tax, to pay the soldiers who were obliged to serve in the army for that period and no longer.

5. A round of years, or period of time, in which the same course begins again; a periodical space of time.

6. An imaginary orb or circle in the heavens.

CYCLOGRAPH, n. [circle, and to describe.] An instrument for describing the arcs of circles.

CYCLOID, n. A geometrical curve on which depends the doctrine of pendulums; a figure made by the upper end of the diameter of a circle, turning about a right line. The genesis of a cycloid may be conceived by imagining a nail in the circumference of a wheel; the line which the nail describes in the air, while the wheel revolves in a right line, is the cycloid.

CYCLOIDAL, a. Pertaining or relating to a cycloid; as, the cycloidal space is the space contained between the cycloid and its substance. Or the space contained between the curve or crooked line and the subtense of the figure.

CYCLOLITE, n. A name given to Madrepores.

CYCLOMETRY, n. [Gr., circle, to measure.] The art of measuring cycles or circles.

CYCLOPEAN, a. [from Cyclops.] Pertaining to the Cyclops; vast; terrific.

CYCLOPEDIA, CYCOPEDE, n. [Gr., circle, discipline, erudition.] The circle or compass of the arts and sciences; circle of human knowledge. Hence, the book or books that contain treatises on every branch of the arts and sciences, arranged under proper heads, in alphabetical order. [See Encyclopedia.]

CYCLOPIC, a. Pertaining to the Cyclops; gigantic; savage.

CYCLOPS, n. [Gr., a circle, an eye.] In fabulous history, certain giants, the sons of Neptune and Amshitrite, who had but one circular eye in the midst of the forehead. They inhabited Sicily, and assisted Vulcan in making thunderbolts for Jupiter.

CYDER. [See Cider.]

CYGNET, n. [L., a swan; Gr.] A young swan.

CYLINDER, n. [Gr. To roll; L.] In geometry, a solid body supposed to be generated by the rotation of a parallelogram round one of its sides; or a long circular body of uniform diameter, and its extremities forming equal parallel circles.

CYLINDRACEOUS, a. Cylindrical. [Little used.]

CYLINDRIC, CYLINDRICAL, a. Having the form of a cylinder; or partaking of its properties.

CYLINDRIFORM, a. [cylinder and form.] Having the form of a cylinder.

CYLINDROID, n. [cylinder and form.] A solid body, approaching to the figure of a cylinder, but differing in some respects, as having the bases elliptical, but parallel and equal.

CYMAR, n. A slight covering; a scarf; properly, simar.

CYMATIUM, CYMA, n. [L., Gr., a little wave.] In architecture, a member or molding of the cornice, the profile of which is waving, that is, concave at the top and convex at bottom.

CYMBAL, n. [L., Gr.]

1. A musical instrument used by the ancients, hollow and made of brass, somewhat like a kettle-drum; but the precise form is not ascertained.

2. A mean instrument used by gypsies and vagrants, made of a steel wire, in a triangular form, on which are passed fie rings, which are touched and shifter along the triangle with an iron rod held in the left hand, while it is supported in the right by a ring, to give it free motion.

CYMBIFORM, a. [L., a boat, form.] Shaped like a boat.

CYME, CYMA, n. [Gr., fetus, to swell.] Literally, a sprout, particularly of the cabbage. Technically, an aggregate flower composed of several florets sitting on a receptacle, producing all the primary peduncles from the same point, but having the partial peduncles scattered and irregular; all fastigiate, or forming a flat surface at the top. It is naked or with bractes.

CYMLING, n. A squash.

CYMOPHANE, n. [Gr., a wave, to appear.] A mineral, called also chrysoberyl. Its color is green of different shades; its fracture conchyoidal or undulated, and in hardness it ranks next to the sapphire.

CYMOPHANOUS, a. Having a wavy floating light; opalescent; chatoyant.

CYMOSE, CYMOUS, a. Containing a cyme; in the form of a cyme.