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Curb vs. Kerb—Which is Correct? (Differences, Meaning, Examples)

Do you stop bykerb or a curb? Do your try to curb your instincts or kerb them? Both kerb and curb sound the same, but their meanings differ. Kerb means the raised portion of pavement on the road and it separates the road from the pavement used for walking. As a verb, Curb means to restrain, control, or hold back.

We will discuss the difference between these two words, their correct meanings, and how to use them correctly.

Differences between Curb and Kerb

Curb and kerb are words that sound similar but their meanings differ. Such words are called homophones.

homophone is a word that sounds the same as another word but means something totally different. [1] Often, there is a lot of confusion over the use of homophones.

The first use of curb was in the 15th Century as a noun for a trap passing under the jaw of a horse for controlling or retraining it. [2]

Later, in the 1700s curb was used as a noun to refer to margins of roads, sidewalks, or gardens made up of stones.

The preferred UK spelling for this is kerb, pronounced the same as curb.

Kerb can be considered the newer spelling of curb; although it is by itself  centuries old. The first usage of curb as a noun, beginning with ‘C’ is from the 1400s and is derived from the French word courbe, for ‘curved’. 4

It was only in the 1800s that the spelling beginning with ‘K’ was linked with the meaning of an ‘an edging of stone (etc.) along a raised path’. [5]

Curb is also used as a verb, which means to control, rein, check, or restrict.

Curb (verb)restrain or keep in check.
Kerb (noun)a check or restraint on something.

The Meaning and Usage of Kerb

Kerb is a noun and is the preferred UK spelling for the stone edges of a pavement.

Some examples:

I tripped over the kerb and hurt my knee.

The car crossed over the kerb and ran into a tree.

Kerb also refers to the place a business is conducted on the side of a street. [3]

Kerb cannot be used as a verb.

Curb vs kerb
Curb vs kerb

The Meaning and Usage of Curb

Curb can be used both as a verb and a noun.

  • As a verb:

You need to curb your anger.

The army was called in to curb the rioters.

  • As a noun:

Curbs on the use of plastic bags are needed to save the environment.

I put curbs on my daughter’s spending.

Kerb cannot be used in place of curb as a verb.

When to Use Curb in Place of Kerb

Kerb is the British English spelling for the noun form of curb.


I like to sit on the kerb and watch the traffic go by.

In American English, it can be written as:

I like to sit on the curb and watch the traffic go by. 

This is acceptable.

American English uses curb for the noun kerb.

I waited on the curb for the traffic lights to change to green.

However, the words cannot be interchanged when used as a verb in American English.

For example:

Most vaccines will curb the risk of infection.

This is the correct usage.


Most antibiotics will kerb the risk of infection is wrong.

Curb and kerb cannot be interchanged when used as a verb.

  • You must curb your temper.

This sentence is correct in both British and American English.

  • You must kerb your temper.

     This is wrong in both.

Another example:

  • I hurt my toe when I slipped on the kerb.

This is correct in British English and is wrong in American English, as the     

word Kerb does not exist in that language.

  • I hurt my toe when I slipped on the curb.

This is correct in American English but not in British English, where kerb is used.

Points to Remember

  • Curb can be used both as a noun and a verb.
  • Curb is the American spelling of the noun kerb.
  • Kerb cannot be is not used in place of curb as a verb.
  • There is no difference in pronunciation.


In American English, curb is used as a verb, meaning a restriction or control, or as a noun for the raised edge of a road or street.

In British English, there is a distinction between “curb” and “kerb”.

So, when writing for an audience that uses British English, you have to be careful of the correct usage.


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About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

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