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curfew [O.Fr.,=cover fire], originally a signal, such as the ringing of a bell, to damp the fire, extinguish all lights in the dwelling, and retire for the night. The custom originated as a precaution against fires and was common throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. The curfew has most recently been used in times of turbulence, such as revolution or civil disorders. It is a restrictive measure forcing all persons into their homes to reduce activity against the government or the occupying force. In some communities it has been applied to curb juvenile delinquency.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an emergency measure prohibiting residents of a community to be on the streets during specified times without special permission.

In the USSR a curfew can be established only under martial law. Its purpose is to maintain order and to prevent diversionary, espionage, or other enemy activity against troops, military and civilian bodies of authority, and military and industrial objectives. Special military subunits are assigned to maintain order during a curfew. In capitalist countries a curfew is established by military and civilian authorities not only in wartime but also in peacetime in cases of increased political and economic aggravations in the country and is often accompanied by arbitrary and lawless police action.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. an official regulation setting restrictions on movement, esp after a specific time at night
2. in medieval Europe
a. the ringing of a bell to prompt people to extinguish fires and lights
b. the time at which the curfew bell was rung
c. the bell itself
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Salceda said in the United States, even without the juvenile curfew measure, arrest rates for 10- to 17-year-olds have declined, reaching an all-time low in 2016 with only 2,553.
The purpose of this curfew clock is to raise Human rights violations in Kashmir to all the diplomats.
UI imposes partial curfew on campus over security challenges
'There is also a curfew to ensure the safety and well-being of Sabahans using the waters and those living in the ESSZone,' he said.
As the situation continued to spread to other places the Government decided to declare an overnight curfew around the island.
Some parts of Sri Lanka including North Western Province (NWP) were placed under indefinite curfew and social media was banned since Monday night after a 45-year-old man was killed by a sword-wielding mob in an escalating anti-Muslim backlash following the Easter terror attacks, Al Jazeera reported.
His solicitor, Sonia Kidd, explained that he was sentenced without a probation report and had that been requested he wouldn't have been given a curfew in the first place.
Wetang'ula, addressing the press at his Kanduyi home after a closed-door meeting with MCAs, said the curfew is not the solution to the wave of insecurity in the area.
Under the proposed 'Unsafe Hours for Children Act,' the curfew would be in effect during 'unsafe hours' and in 'public places' from 10 p.m.
But the curfew imposed did not allow him to access the area without breaching his curfew.
There were protests in some areas following which curfew was re-imposed last evening, he said.
Authorities in some cities in Metro Manila have intensified their efforts to round up minors past the 10pm curfew in an operation dubbed 'Oplan Rody'.