What Does the Word “Curfew” Mean in French and How Did the Term Originate?

The word curfew comes from the French word “couvre-feu”, which means “cover-fire” and was brought to England by William the Conqueror.

The original Curfew Law minimized the tremendous risk of fire by ordaining that a bell be rung at eight o’clock each evening, signaling everyone to either extinguish or cover their home fires.

During political unrest, the same curfew bell signaled the public to clear the streets and stay in their homes for the night.

A curfew in a more modern context is an order establishing a specific time in the evening after which certain regulations apply.

For example, no civilians or other specified group of unauthorized persons may be outdoors or that places of public assembly must be closed.

A curfew also often refers to a regulation imposed by a parent on a child requiring a person to be home at a certain prescribed time.