In the 13th century a night watch was founded in London to enforce curfew.

Nobody (except people of a certain social standing) was permitted to be out on the streets during the curfew.

Is there a word for offending the curfew?

Ideally it would fit into the following sentence:

"A constable doing his rounds as the night watch came across a man [...] . He was detained until the following morning."

  • Not sure your idea of medieval curfew is correct: The medieval practice of ringing a bell (usually at 8 or 9 p.m.) as an order to bank the hearths and prepare for sleep was to prevent conflagrations from untended fires. The modern extended sense of "periodic restriction of movement" had evolved by 1800s. etymonline.com/word/curfew – user240918 May 11 at 19:09
  • in violation of the curfew – Jim May 11 at 19:09
  • @user240918 This is my source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… , although the etymology of the word comes corruption of the French "couvre feu" which is entirely what you are saying. I presume that was the reason in many other towns of the period. – A Lambent Eye May 11 at 19:12
  • @ALambentEye - it is not clear if at that time the practice was called curfew in London. – user240918 May 11 at 19:22
  • @user240918 I agree. Should you know a better word I would be delighted to use it. – A Lambent Eye May 11 at 19:24

In your sentence, it would commonly be phrased breaking curfew:

"A constable doing his rounds as the night watch came across a man breaking curfew. He was detained until the following morning."

Some examples:

"Life under curfew for American teens: ‘it’s insane, no other country does this’":

Since the 1990s, millions of teenagers have been arrested for breaking curfew, which a policy analysis shows has a disproportionate impact on minorities

"How should we discipline our teen for breaking curfew?":

How should we discipline our teen for breaking curfew? I don't want to be too harsh, especially if he's only a few minutes late, but I do want him to take the curfew seriously.

"Pakistan’s Akmal fined part of match fee for breaking curfew":

Pakistan middle order batsman Umar Akmal has been fined 20% of his match fee for breaking a team curfew ahead of the fifth and final one-day international against Australia on Sunday.


Children and teenagers that break curfew are taken to the local police station and police officers inform their parents to get them. The age limits stated here shall be based upon year of birth, not date of birth. If a parent cannot be reached, the child or teenager is taken to a shelter.

It also turns out that the initial hits for the term on Google are related to the album from Red Rider titled Breaking Curfew, which is suggestive of its popular phrasing.

  • 2
    Whaaaa...? Has America been under martial law or an emergency "since the 1990's"? – Hagen von Eitzen May 11 at 22:07
  • 4
    It's not quite martial law, but in many US communities there is a permanent curfew that applies to minors and (as the quotation from the linked article points out) is selectively enforced in a way that imposes a particular burden on members of racial minorities. – Nanigashi May 12 at 0:39
  • Maybe you mean scolded? I don't think millions of teens have been arrested for getting home late. // Break curfew, Did not make his curfew. – aparente001 May 12 at 5:12
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    @aparente001 No, apparently they have. Follow the link in the answer (emphasis mine): "In San Diego, it’s illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to be out past 10pm." It's not about getting home late (in this one example), it's about being caught on the street after a certain time. – Jason Bassford May 12 at 8:55
  • Good heavens. I had no idea. (Where I live, there's no juvenile curfew.) Okay, that was some eye-opening reading. But I'm still doubting that the numbers are that high. – aparente001 May 13 at 4:03

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