curtain-raisernoun [ C ]uk /ˈkɜː.tənˌreɪ.zər/ us /ˈkɝː.t̬ənˌreɪ.zɚ/
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(Definition of “curtain-raiser” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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an area, often covered with sand or rocks, where there is very little rain and not many plants