AskDefine | Define curtsy

Dictionary Definition

curtsy n : bending at the knees; a gesture of respect made by women [syn: curtsey]


1 a gesture of respectful greeting, for women [syn: curtsey]
2 make a curtsy; usually done only by girls and women; as a sign of respect; "She curtsied when she shook the Queen's hand" [syn: bob] [also: curtsied]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. alternative spelling of curtsey

Extensive Definition

A curtsey (also spelled curtsy) is a traditional gesture of greeting, in which a woman bends her knees while bowing her head. It is the female equivalent of male bowing in Western cultures. The word "curtsy" is a phonological change from "courtesy" known in linguistics as syncope.
In more formal variants of the curtsey, the woman bends the knees outward (rather than straight ahead), often sweeping one foot behind her. She may also use her hands to hold her skirt out from her body.
Traditionally, women would curtsey for those of senior social rank just as men would bow. Today this practice has become less common. In European cultures it is traditional for women to curtsey in front of royalty. It may then be referred to as a court curtsey and is often especially deep and elaborate. Further, some female domestic workers curtsey for their employers.
Female dancers often curtsey at the end of a performance to show gratitude or acknowledge any applause from the audience. At the end of a ballet class, students will also curtsey or bow to the teacher and the pianist to show gratitude. According to Victorian dance etiquette, a woman curtseys before beginning a dance.
The "Texas Dip" is an extreme curtsey performed by a Texan debutante when formally introduced at the International Debutante Ball in the Waldorf-Astoria. The young women slowly lower their forehead to the floor by crossing their ankles, then bending their knees and sinking. The escort's hand is held during the dip. When they get close to the floor their head is turned down towards the gown and floor. The rising is made as an awakening.
curtsy in German: Knicks (Gruß)
curtsy in French: Révérence
curtsy in Japanese: カーテシー
curtsy in Norwegian: Neiing
curtsy in Russian: Книксен
curtsy in Swedish: Nigning

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

accost, address, bend, bend the knee, bend the neck, bend to, bending the knee, bid good day, bid good morning, bob, bob a curtsy, bob down, bow, bow and scrape, bow down, bow the head, bow to, bowing and scraping, cringe to, crouch, crouch before, dipping the colors, do homage, do obeisance, duck, embrace, exchange greetings, fall down before, genuflect, genuflection, greet, greeting, grovel, hail, hand-clasp, handshake, hello, homage, how-do-you-do, hug, inclination, kiss, kiss hands, kneel, kneel to, kneeling, knuckle to, kowtow, lift the hat, make a leg, make a reverence, make obeisance, making a leg, nod, nod to, obeisance, obsequiousness, presenting arms, prostration, pull the forelock, reverence, salaam, salutation, salute, say hello, scrape, servility, shake, shake hands, smile, smile of recognition, squat, standing at attention, stoop, submission, submissiveness, supination, touch the hat, truckle to, uncover, wave
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