What does curfew mean?

   Curfew is a law that forbids people to be on the streets after a certain hour. The word comes from the French couvrefeu, meaning "cover the fire." In medieval European towns curfew laws were passed to reduce the danger from torches or open fires in the wooden houses. A bell was rung every night at about eight o'clock to warn the townsmen to put out their lights, cover their fires, and go to bed. In remote English towns a curfew bell is still rung to tell the tune. Today, curfew is imposed chiefly in times of war or revolution or when a district is under martial law. Some towns in the United States have established curfews to keep children at home after a certain hour.