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curator, n.

Brit. /kjᵿˈreɪtə/
U.S. /kjəˈreɪdər/
Forms:  Middle English curatour, Middle English couratour, curature, Middle English–1500s curatoure, 1500s– curator.(Show Less)
Frequency (in current use):  Show frequency band information
Etymology: Partly < Anglo-Norman curatour = French -ateur   (13th cent. in Godefroy Supp.), < Latin cūrātor  , -ōrem  , overseer, guardian, agent-noun < cūrāre   (see cure v.1); partly directly < Latin. The former derivation gave the pronunciation ˈcurator in senses 1, 2; the latter gave cuˈrator.
One who has the care or charge of a person or thing.
 I. Senses derived through Anglo-Norman curatour.

 1. A person appointed as guardian of the affairs of someone legally unfit to conduct them him- or herself, such as a minor, an insane person, etc.Used in Roman Law, esp. for the guardian of a minor after the age of tutelage; hence a current term in Scots Law.

1413   J. Lydgate Pilgr. of Sowle (1859) iv. xxxviii. 64   They leden the kynge at theyr owne lust, ryght as tutours, and couratours.
1463   Aberdeen Burgh Rec. 12 July (Jam. Suppl.)   Henry of Culan..of lauchful aige, out of tutoury and has chosine til his curat[our]is to gowerne him.
1555   Sc. Act Mary (1597) §35   Quhen onie Minor passis the ȝeires of his Tutorie, and desiris Curatoures.
1590   H. Swinburne Briefe Treat. Test. & Willes iii. f. 102v   When he is of the age of 14. yeeres..the minor maie then..choose a curator, either the same person that was tutor or some other.
a1649   W. Drummond Hist. James V in Wks. (1711) 86   A Quarrel..arising between the Curators of the Laird of Langton, and one of his Uncles.
1651   T. Hobbes Leviathan i. xvi. 82   Mad-men that have no use of Reason, may be Personated by Guardians, or Curators.
1753   W. Stewart in Scots Mag. Mar. 132/2   He is tutor and curator..to several orphans.
1848   J. J. S. Wharton Law Lexicon 281/2   In England, the guardian performs the offices both of a tutor and a curator, under the Roman law.
1891   Pall Mall Gaz. 12 Nov. 6/1   The Dukes of Fife and Westminster as curators for the Duke of Sutherland's younger sons, oppose the petition.

1413—1891(Hide quotations)


2. One who has the cure of souls; = curate n. 1.

1362   W. Langland Piers Plowman A. i. 169   Curatours þat schulden kepe hem clene of heore bodies Þei beoþ cumbred in care.
1377   Piers Plowman B. xx. 279   For persones and parish prestes þat shulde þe peple shryue, Ben curatoures called to knowe and to hele, Alle þat ben her parisshiens.
c1425   Wyntoun Cron. vii. vi. 29   He wald..Mak for þis man swa gret prayere, As if he had bene his curature.
c1450   J. Myrc Instr. to Par. Priests 11   Wharefore þou preste curatoure, Ȝef þou plese thy sauyoure.

1362—c1450(Hide quotations)

 II. Modern senses, from Latin curator.

 3. gen. A person who has charge; a manager, overseer, steward.

1632   W. Lithgow Totall Disc. Trav. (1682) ix. 364   The Oven producing at one time three or four hundred living Chickens..for the Hatcher or Curator, is only Recompenced according to the living numbers.
1691   T. Hale Acct. New Inventions 34   They who.. are by the Crown made..Curators of the Health and Safety of its Ships.
1755   Gentleman's Mag. Nov. 495/1   The orthography might be in some measure altered by the curator of the impression.
1862   J. Ruskin Munera Pulveris (1880) 29   The real state of men of property being, too commonly, that of curators, not possessors, of wealth.

1632—1862(Hide quotations)

 4. spec. in University.

 a. In some foreign universities: a member of a board (or an individual official) having the general superintendence of the whole university, and the power to select or nominate professors.

1691   A. Wood Athenæ Oxonienses I. 406   The curators of that University [Leyden] gave him an yearly stipend.
1728   E. Chambers Cycl. (at cited word)   The Curators are chose by the States of each Province: The Academy of Leyden has three; the Bourgemaisters of the City have a fourth.
1834   W. Hamilton in Edinb. Rev. Apr. 206   The curator [at Pisa] was charged with the general superintendence of student and professor; and whatever directly or indirectly concerned the wellbeing of the University, was within his sphere.
1840   Penny Cycl. XVIII. 322/1   An excellent system of public education..was introduced by the university of Vilna under the superintendence of its curator Prince Adam Czartoryski.

1691—1840(Hide quotations)


 b. In the University of Oxford: a member of one of the committees or boards having the charge of various portions of University property, as the Curators of the University Chest, of the Bodleian Library, etc. So at Durham.

1693   Oxford-act ii. 11   Next the Curators [of the Theatre] must take care No breach of Peace be suffer'd there.
1710   in H. Bedford Vindic. Church of Eng. 172   The Curators in their Annual Visitation of the Library.
1893   Oxf. Univ. Cal.   Curators of the Bodleian Library..Curators of the Indian Institute..Curators of the Park, etc.

1693—1893(Hide quotations)


 c. In the Scottish Universities: a member of the body charged with the election of a number of the professors.

1858   Universities of Scotl. Act (21 & 22 Vict. c. 83) §13   The Right of Nomination or Presentation to the Office of Principal and to all Professorships in the University of Edinburgh..exercised by the Town Council of Edinburgh..shall be transferred..to..Seven Curators.

1858—1858(Hide quotations)


 5. The officer in charge of a museum, gallery of art, library, or the like; a keeper, custodian.In many cases the official title of the chief keeper.

1667   Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 2 486   The Curator of the Royal Society.
a1684   J. Evelyn Diary anno 1661 (1955) III. 292   Our Diving bell..in which our Curator contin<ue>d halfe an houre under water.
1767   Hunter Diary LVIII. 42   The Curators of the British Musæum.
1837   J. G. Lockhart Mem. Life Scott vii   In June 1795 he was appointed one of the Curators of the Advocate's library.
1889   Whitaker's Almanack 160   Museum of Practical Geology..Curator, Registrar and Librarian.

1667—1889(Hide quotations)


 6. A designation of public officers of various kinds under the Roman Empire.

1728   H. Herbert tr. C. Fleury Eccl. Hist. II. 16   Callidius Gratianus who was Curator in the year 314.
1841   W. Spalding Italy & Ital. Islands I. 103   The city was..divided into fourteen regions, each of which had two police superintendents, called Curators.

1728—1841(Hide quotations)


This entry has not yet been fully updated (first published 1893; most recently modified version published online June 2020).

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