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n. pl. cu·ri·os·i·ties
1. A desire to know or learn.
2. A desire to know about people or things that do not concern one; nosiness.
3. An object that arouses interest, as by being novel or extraordinary: kept the carved bone and displayed it as a curiosity.
4. A strange or odd aspect.
5. Archaic Fastidiousness.

[Middle English curiosite, from Old French, from Latin cūriōsitās, from cūriōsus, inquisitive; see curious.]


n, pl -ties
1. an eager desire to know; inquisitiveness
a. the quality of being curious; strangeness
b. (as modifier): the ring had curiosity value only.
3. something strange or fascinating
4. a rare or strange object; curio
5. obsolete fastidiousness


(ˌkyʊər iˈɒs ɪ ti)

n., pl. -ties.
1. the desire to learn or know about anything; inquisitiveness.
2. a curious, rare, or novel thing.
3. a strange, curious, or interesting quality.
4. Archaic. carefulness; fastidiousness.
[1350–1400; Middle English (< Anglo-French) < Latin]


  1. Aloof curiosity like that of sixth-formers watching a sword-swallower —Frank Swinnerton

    See Also: REMOTENESS

  2. Curious as a monkey —Anon
  3. Curious as a two-year old —Anon
  4. Curiosity … like thirst —Alice McDermott
  5. Inquisitive as a goat —Erich Maria Remarque
  6. Inquisitive as an X-ray —Anon
  7. Inquisitive as a reporter smelling a scoop —Elyse Sommer
  8. Pick and pry like a doctor or archeologist —Sylvia Plath
  9. Poking his nose everywhere like a dog smelling out a trail —American colloquialism
  10. Suppressed her curiosity as if squashing a cockroach —Marge Piercy




eavesdropper One who clandestinely listens in on private conversations; a fly on the wall, a snoop or spy. It was formerly the practice of such persons to listen in on private conversations by standing under the eaves of the dwelling in which they occurred. The dropper part of the term seems to have some connection with rain dripping off the eaves and onto the listener standing under them, as indicated by the following passage describing the punishment prescribed by the Freemasons for a convicted eavesdropper:

To be placed under the eaves of the house in rainy weather, till the water runs in at his shoulders and out at his heels.

The term dates from 1487.

fly on the wall An eavesdropper, an unseen witness. In this expression, the implication is that a small, inconspicuous fly that has settled on a wall is able to witness events without being noticed. The phrase is nearly always heard as part of a person’s expressed desire to see and hear certain conversations or goings on (“I’d love to be a fly on the wall”); rarely is it used in contexts implying actual clandestine behavior. This same concept, that is, a small, unobtrusive insect acting as a witness, may have given rise to bug ‘a concealed recording device or microphone.’ However, it is more likely that bug was used to describe the tiny microphone, which resembles an insect.

rubberneck A person who gapes and gawks; one who stares intently at something or someone; a curious observer; a tourist. This expression alludes to the elasticlike neck contortions of one trying to view everything in sight. Although the phrase sometimes carries a disparaging implication of unjustified curiosity, rubberneck is more often applied humorously to conspicuous sightseers in an unfamiliar locale who gaze wonderingly at scenes taken for granted by the natives.

They are the nobility—the swells. They don’t hang around the streets like tourists and rubbernecks. (G. B. McCutcheon, Truxton King, 1910)

take a gander To glance at; to look at out of curiosity. This expression, derived from the inquisitive male goose, enjoys widespread use in the United States and Great Britain.

Take a gander at the see-through door below. See that corrugated piece of steel? (Scientific American, October, 1971)


The following words can all be used to describe a person who is eager to find out about someone's life, or about an event or situation:

1. 'curious'

Curious is a neutral word, which does not show approval or disapproval.

Steve was intensely curious about the world I came from.
2. 'interested'

Interested is usually complimentary when it is used to talk about someone's interest in a person's life.

She put on a good show of looking interested.
3. 'nosy' and 'prying'

Nosy and prying are used to show disapproval.

'Who is the girl you came in with?' – 'Don't be so nosy.'
Computer-based records can easily be protected from prying eyes by simple systems of codes.

Prying is usually used with eyes.

4. 'inquisitive'

Inquisitive is sometimes used to show disapproval, but it can also be neutral or even complimentary.

Mr Courtney was surprised. 'A ring, you say?' He tried not to sound inquisitive.
Up close, he was a man with inquisitive sparkling eyes and a fresh, very down-to-earth smile.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.curiosity - a state in which you want to learn more about somethingcuriosity - a state in which you want to learn more about something
cognitive state, state of mind - the state of a person's cognitive processes
desire to know, lust for learning, thirst for knowledge - curiosity that motivates investigation and study
interest, involvement - a sense of concern with and curiosity about someone or something; "an interest in music"
curiousness, inquisitiveness - a state of active curiosity
2.curiosity - something unusual -- perhaps worthy of collecting
object, physical object - a tangible and visible entity; an entity that can cast a shadow; "it was full of rackets, balls and other objects"
collectable, collectible - things considered to be worth collecting (not necessarily valuable or antique)
collector's item, piece de resistance, showpiece - the outstanding item (the prize piece or main exhibit) in a collection


1. inquisitiveness, interest, prying, snooping (informal), nosiness (informal) Mr Lim was a constant source of curiosity to his neighbours.
2. oddity, wonder, sight, phenomenon, spectacle, freak, marvel, novelty, rarity The company is a curiosity in the world of publishing.
3. collector's item, trinket, curio, knick-knack, objet d'art (French), bibelot The mantelpieces and windowsills are adorned with curiosities.
"Curiosity killed the cat"


1. Mental acquisitiveness:
Idiom: thirst for knowledge.
2. Undue interest in the affairs of others:
Informal: nosiness, snoopiness.
حُب الأسِتطلاعشَيء نادِر وغَريب
ilginç ve acayipmerak


A. N
1. (= inquisitiveness) → curiosidad f (about por, acerca de) out of curiositypor curiosidad
curiosity killed the catla curiosidad mata al hombre
2. (= rare thing) → curiosidad f
B. CPD curiosity shop Ntienda f de curiosidades
curiosity value N its only attraction is its curiosity valuesu único interés es el valor que tiene como rareza


[ˌkjʊəriˈɒsɪti] n
(= inquisitiveness) → curiosité f
(= rare object) → curiosité f curiosity shopcuriosity shop nmagasin m de brocante


no pl (= inquisitiveness)Neugier f; (for knowledge) → Wissbegier(de) f; out of or from curiosityaus Neugier; curiosity killed the cat (Prov) → sei nicht so neugierig
(= object, person)Kuriosität f


[ˌkjʊərɪˈɒsɪtɪ] ncuriosità f inv
curiosity killed the cat → la curiosità si paga cara


(ˈkjuəriəs) adjective
1. strange; odd. a curious habit.
2. anxious or interested (to learn). I'm curious (to find out) whether he passed his exams.
ˈcuriously adverb
ˌcuriˈosity (-ˈo-) plural ˌcuriˈosities noun
1. eagerness to learn. She was very unpopular because of her curiosity about other people's affairs.
2. something strange and rare. That old chair is quite a curiosity.
References in classic literature ?
asked Amy, coming into their room one Saturday afternoon, and finding them getting ready to go out with an air of secrecy which excited her curiosity.
At times an almost over- whelming curiosity had taken hold of him.
All right," Tom finally answered, as he hung the receiver up, "I'll be here," and then he turned to Ned, whose curiosity had been growing with the telephone talk, and remarked:
Shimerda understand the friendly intention of our visit, and the Bohemian woman handled the loaves of bread and even smelled them, and examined the pies with lively curiosity, exclaiming, `Much good, much thank
Besides, she was consumed with curiosity to see the little house and the manner in which it was conducted.
At a respectful distance from this unusual show, were gathered divers groups of curious idlers; some admiring the blood and bone of the high-mettled military charger, and others gazing at the preparations, with the dull wonder of vulgar curiosity.
Familiar as it stands in the writer's recollection,--for it has been an object of curiosity with him from boyhood, both as a specimen of the best and stateliest architecture of a longpast epoch, and as the scene of events more full of human interest, perhaps, than those of a gray feudal castle,--familiar as it stands, in its rusty old age, it is therefore only the more difficult to imagine the bright novelty with which it first caught the sunshine.
I used to watch and study this patriarchal personage with, I think, livelier curiosity than any other form of humanity there presented to my notice.
The departing ladies who had said they would stay didn't, of course, thank heaven, stay: they departed, in consequence of arrangements made, in a rage of curiosity, as they professed, produced by the touches with which he had already worked us up.
Such a portentous and mysterious monster roused all my curiosity.
How all regarded the happy dancer, how many envied him the high favor; how increased curiosity, who the masked knight could be.
The Miss Steeles, as she expected, had now all the benefit of these jokes, and in the eldest of them they raised a curiosity to know the name of the gentleman alluded to, which, though often impertinently expressed, was perfectly of a piece with her general inquisitiveness into the concerns of their family.