Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Curfew (Fr. couvre feu), a bell which in ancient times in England rang at a certain hour in the evening to warn people to put out their fires. The practice is sometimes thought to have been a creation of Norman tyranny, but probably existed long before, and had for its simple object the putting out of fires. The curfew is still rung in some parts of England, and is sometimes a signal for apprentices to stop work. The usual hour for the curfew bell is sunset or eight o'clock, though Shakspeare, in Romeo and Juliet, says, "The curfew bell has rung, 'Tis three o'clock." This, however, may be a misreading of eight. "The curfew tolls the knell of parting day," says Gray's elegy. The word also denoted an ornamented cover for the fire.