Is succinct the boldest kind of counsel? Is terse the least courteous manner?


Think of when you are cut short. In fact, shot right out the middle. Cut short… Cu…rt… That is what kind of reply does it. Curt.

Curt is so curt it does not even start with “If I may be so bold”; it just is so bold. Curt sounds like the beginning of courtesy, but that is quickly curtailed, and uncourteously at that. The curtain is pulled.

Curt looks like it could be a rude word. A word that is curt is a rude word, you can bet on it. It can hurt. Get your knickers in a twist, even.

It sounds crisp and cutting. The tongue kicks at the back, passes arched through the middle, taps cold and hard at the front. That is all. It has a sound of a short skirt, but it is not. A short skirt may be interesting. Curt rebuffs.

Now tell me what sort of a fellow is likely to be curt. Is it a fellow who is likely to be Kurt, or Curt?

Two names identical in sound but different in feeling because of their spelling. Also because they come from different origins. Both are short forms of something else. Curt is short for Curtis, which originally came from Old French for ‘courteous’ but was later associated with curt hose ‘short leggings’. Kurt is originally a short form of Konrad, which originally meant ‘bold counsel’.

And curt?


Curtus. ‘Short’, now so short it cuts us out. Shows up in French court, Spanish and Italian corto, but also German kurz and Swedish and Danish kort.

If you are being curt, you are being short with someone.


3 responses to “curt

  1. Pingback: succinct | Sesquiotica

  2. Pingback: terse | Sesquiotica

  3. If you cut off someone while he is being curt, is that “curtus interruptus”?

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