A curtsey is a feminine version of a formal bow, a head-dipping, knee-bending gesture of greeting. A woman might curtsey when meeting a Queen.

You show respect when you curtsey, but it's so formal that it isn't often necessary in most cultures. When a woman meets a member of royalty — like a prince or an empress — it's appropriate for her to curtsey. Figure skaters and some dancers also do a ceremonial curtsey at the end of a performance. A more common way to spell it is curtsy — both versions come from the root word courtesy, which you show when you curtsey.

Definitions of curtsey
  1. verb
    bend the knees in a gesture of respectful greeting
    synonyms: curtsy
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    type of:
    bend the head or the upper part of the body in a gesture of respect or greeting
  2. noun
    bending the knees; a gesture of respect made by women
    synonyms: curtsy
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    type of:
    an act showing respect (especially a bow or curtsy)
    gesture, motion
    the use of movements (especially of the hands) to communicate familiar or prearranged signals
Word Family