Curl one’s hair

The idiom curl one’s hair has an uncertain origin. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words, or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, in the same boat, bite the bullet, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the idiom curl one’s hair, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

To curl one’s hair means to frighten someone or to shock someone. The phrase is sometimes rendered as make one’s hair curl or enough to make one’s hair curl. The idiom has an uncertain origin. Some believe it is related to the phrase make one’s hair stand on end. In any case, the image is of someone who is so frightened or so shocked, even his hair recoils in horror. Related phrases are curls one’s hair, curled one’s hair, curling one’s hair.


Florida and California are both big states with any number of pressing problems — including big budgets, natural disasters and pension debt that would curl your hair. (The Orange County Register)

“I have a glare that will curl your hair,” she admits. (The Spokesman-Review)

“I’m no prude; I have jokes that could curl your hair,” says Engvall, who will bring his brand of family-friendly comedy to the Palace Theatre for two performances of his “Just Sell Him for Parts” tour on May 13. (The Tribune-Review)

“Talk to Dr. Theo. Engelbach, who has lived on the island for a quarter-century, and he’ll tell you yarns that will curl your hair.” (The Houma Courier)

‘It was tough making the decision to manipulate her at the end because I had to have her recreate all I had heard for a year-and-a-half, and it was enough to curl your hair,’ says Tripp on the new episode of Fox News’ Scandalous. (The Daily Mail)

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