Printable Version
Pronunciation: kêrt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Rudely short, abrupt in speaking to someone as though unwilling to answer. 2. Using few words, short, terse, to the point. 3. An abbreviation for current: curt.

Notes: Today's curt Good Word, curt, lives up to its name: it is short and to the point. I will try to do the same in writing up this word today. It comes with two relations, an adverb, curtly, and a noun, curtness.

In Play: Remember that a curt reply is usually a rude one: "When I asked June McBride how many husbands she has had, I received a curt reply: 'None of your business!' whereupon she abruptly turned and walked away." However, the sense of this word is not always pejorative: "I hope you will make your report curt and to the point and not filled with the bombastic gobbledygook your reports usually contain."

Word History: This Good Word was taken from Latin curtus "(cut) short, shortened". The Latin word was adopted early into most Germanic languages such as Icelandic korta and German kurz, driving out the native words with Fickle S. English, however, retains it in short, shear, and share, one's 'cut', as they say in thieves' argot when dividing up loot. They all come from the PIE root (s)ker- "to cut". Of course, all the Romance languages kept the Latin word for "short": Portuguese curto, Spanish corto, and French court, and all retain the original Latin sense. What about the name Curt, you ask? Kurt in German comes from a nickname for Konrad, while Curt is short for Curtis in English. No relation. (We owe William Hupy more than a curt 'Thanks' for his suggestion of today's Good Word, so we offer him our deepest appreciation.)

Dr. Goodword,

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