A curricle was a smart, light two-wheeled chaise or "chariot", large enough for the driver and a passenger and— most unusual for a vehicle with a single axle—usually drawn by a carefully matched pair of horses. It was popular in the early 19th century: its name — from the Latin curriculum, meaning "running", "racecourse" or "chariot"[1] — is the equivalent of a "runabout" and it was a rig suitable for a smart young man who liked to drive himself, at a canter. The French liked the English-sounding term "carrick" for these vehicles. The lightweight swept body with just the lightest dashboard hung with a pair of lamps was hung from a pair of outsized swan-neck leaf springs at the rear. For a grand show in the Bois de Boulogne or along the seafront at Honfleur, two liveried mounted grooms might follow.[2]

In Northanger Abbey Henry Tilney drives a curricle; John Thorpe drives a gig, but buffoonishly praises it as "curricle-hung". Margaret Sullivan found that Jane Austen's assignment of vehicles to the two men was far from arbitrary.[3]

Curricles were notorious for the accidents their drivers suffered.[4] Thus, in the romance novel Miss Carlyle's Curricle by Karen Harbaugh, the heroine inherits the curricle in which her uncle died in a racing accident.[5]


  1. ^ World Wide Words: Curriculum.
  2. ^ Notes sur les voitures hippomobiles: Le Carrick ou curricle, à pompe. À Honfleur: N. Neffe, Gravure d'art contemporain. In French, illustrated.
  3. ^ Margaret C. Sullivan, "The curricle" 2000. Tilneys and Trap-doors: Keeping irony alive since 1999. Illustrated.
  4. ^ R v Pigott and Crampton, 1828. Macquarie Law: Decisions of the Superior Courts of New South Wales, 1788-1899. A child is run over by two gentlemen in a curricle.
  5. ^ The Romance Reader reviews: Miss Carlyle's Curricle by Karen Harbaugh.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Curricle — Cur ri*cle (k?r r? k l), n. [L.curriculum a running, a race course, fr. currere to run. See {Current}, and cf. {Curriculum}.] 1. A small or short course. [1913 Webster] Upon a curricle in this world depends a long course of the next. Sir T.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • curricle — [kʉr′i kəl] n. [L curriculum: see CURRICULUM] a light, two wheeled carriage drawn by two horses side by side …   English World dictionary

  • curricle — /kerr i keuhl/, n. a light, two wheeled, open carriage drawn by two horses abreast. [1675 85; < L curriculum; see CURRICULUM] * * * ▪ carriage       open, two wheeled gentleman s carriage, popular in England from about 1700 to 1850. It was pulled …   Universalium

  • curricle — noun A light two wheeled carriage large enough for the driver and a passenger and drawn by a carefully matched pair. Not since the year 17, when milord Castlebrilliants curricle was whirled to sea with her ladyship within, had there been such… …   Wiktionary

  • curricle — noun Etymology: Latin curriculum running, chariot, from currere Date: 1752 a 2 wheeled chaise usually drawn by two horses …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • curricle — two wheeled open carriage Carriages and Chariots …   Phrontistery dictionary

  • curricle — n. two wheeled open carriage pulled by horses …   English contemporary dictionary

  • curricle — [ kʌrɪk(ə)l] noun historical a light, open, two wheeled carriage pulled by two horses side by side. Origin C18: from L. curriculum course, racing chariot …   English new terms dictionary

  • curricle — cur·ri·cle …   English syllables

  • curricle — cur•ri•cle [[t]ˈkɜr ɪ kəl[/t]] n. trs a light, two wheeled, open carriage drawn by two horses abreast • Etymology: 1675–85; < L curriculum; see curriculum …   From formal English to slang

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