\ ˈärk How to pronounce arc (audio) \
plural arcs

Definition of arc

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1 : the apparent path described above and below the horizon by a celestial body (such as the sun)
2a : something arched or curved
b : a curved path the arc of a fly ball
c basketball : three-point line At week's end he was shooting 40.0% from behind the arc and averaging 19.6 points.— Phil Taylor
3 : a sustained luminous discharge of electricity across a gap in a circuit or between electrodes also : arc lamp
4 : a continuous portion (as of a circle or ellipse) of a curved line
5 : degree measurement on the circumference of a circle used especially in the phrase of arc 11 minutes 3 seconds of arc
6 : a continuous progression or line of development a story's dramatic arc


arced\ ˈärkt How to pronounce arc (audio) \; arcing\ ˈär-​kiŋ How to pronounce arc (audio) \

Definition of arc (Entry 2 of 5)

intransitive verb

1 : to form an electric arc (see arc entry 1 sense 3)
2 : to follow an arc-shaped course The ball arced across the sky.

transitive verb

: to throw, hit, or kick (something, such as a ball) on a high, arc-shaped course After driving into the long rough, he reached for a 4-wood and arced the ball just wide of the green.— Jeff Shain



Definition of arc (Entry 3 of 5)

: inverse sense 2 used with the trigonometric functions and hyperbolic functions

Definition of ARC (Entry 4 of 5)

1 AIDS-related complex
2 American Red Cross


abbreviation or noun
\ ˌā-ˌär-ˈsē How to pronounce ARC (audio) \
plural ARCs

Definition of ARC (Entry 5 of 5)

: a copy of a printed work (such as a novel or textbook) sent as a promotion prior to the official release First, I receive a box of paperback, smaller versions of my book called advance reader copies (ARCs).— Susan Van Kirk While some houses like Chronicle Books continued to sell on the show floor, albeit at 50% discount, many publishers offered free ARCs— Judith Rosen

Synonyms & Antonyms for arc

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of arc in a Sentence

Noun He bent the twig into an arc. The ball floated in a high arc. Verb The arrow arced through the air. A light arced across the sky. The island chain arcs from north to south.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Ole Miss thriving beyond the arc early, connecting on 4-of-7 3-point attempts so far. Tom Green |, al, 15 Jan. 2022 Teammate Jules Bernard grabbed the rebound, trying desperately to get beyond the arc for another try. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, 13 Jan. 2022 Heather Middleton went 2-for-3 from beyond the arc to lead the Wildcats with 25 points overall. Baltimore Sun Staff,, 10 Jan. 2022 Abandoning his signature jumper mid-flight, Murray decided to ship the ball to Keldon Johnson beyond the arc. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, 22 Dec. 2021 Oakland continued to bomb away from outside, with Moore hitting a deep one over a flat-footed Hoggard and Cain hitting two more — the Grizzlies were 6-for-11 from beyond the arc in the half. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, 22 Dec. 2021 Ohio State shot the ball well enough from beyond the arc to get itself back into the game in the first quarter. Matt Cohen, The Indianapolis Star, 13 Dec. 2021 The Cardinal small forward caught the ball, dribbled twice and pulled up from just beyond the arc — all in a little more than one second. oregonlive, 12 Dec. 2021 Orlando jumped out to a 22-13 lead with four minutes remaining in the first quarter by making five of its first six from beyond the arc. ... Joe Reedy, ajc, 12 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Renderings include a lavish performance area cupped against a ridge-like ramp that would arc through part of the block, allowing elevated views of the surrounding towers. John King, San Francisco Chronicle, 9 Sep. 2021 On her feet once more and hunched in a defense stance, Eggleston watched Gabriel’s loft flutter high and arc down toward sophomore outside hitter Skylar Fields. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, 22 Apr. 2021 Combined with a Savoir bed, the florals arc across the headboard in a bright half mandala. Kate Mcgregor, ELLE Decor, 22 Mar. 2021 Yet several of the episodes don't really arc toward anything, but rather abruptly end before moving on to the next chapter. Brian Lowry, CNN, 2 Dec. 2020 Bottlenose dolphins arc through the water in unison, for instance, and males of some firefly species harmonize their flashes. Marta Zaraska, Scientific American, 1 Oct. 2020 Scholl, who’s from Cincinnati, is a computer science graduate, amateur pilot, and longtime aviation buff, but the early parts of his career don’t arc toward aerospace. Ashlee Vance,, 6 Oct. 2020 Strange trails arc through the sky, as if fireworks were being set off in daylight. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 2 Oct. 2020 Solar flares arc over the sun’s corona, the burning hot outermost layer of gas in its atmosphere. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, 2 July 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'arc.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of arc


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1883, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1949, in the meaning defined above

Abbreviation or noun

2006, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for arc

Noun and Verb

Middle English ark, from Anglo-French arc bow, from Latin arcus bow, arch, arc — more at arrow


arc sine arc or angle (corresponding to the) sine (of so many degrees)

Abbreviation or noun

advanced reader copy

Learn More About arc

Time Traveler for arc

Time Traveler

The first known use of arc was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near arc

arbutus pink



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for arc

Last Updated

23 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Arc.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for arc



English Language Learners Definition of arc

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a line or shape that is curved like part of a circle
: a brightly glowing electric current that flows across an open space between two points (such as two electrodes)



English Language Learners Definition of arc (Entry 2 of 2)

: to move or lie in a curving path : to follow an arc-shaped course
: to form an electric arc


\ ˈärk How to pronounce arc (audio) \

Kids Definition of arc

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a glowing light across a gap in an electric circuit or between electrodes
2 : a part of a curved line between any two points on it


arced\ ˈärkt \; arcing\ ˈär-​kiŋ \

Kids Definition of arc (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to form an electric arc
2 : to follow a curved course A missile arced across the sky.


\ ˈärk How to pronounce arc (audio) \

Medical Definition of arc

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an arched or curved anatomical part, distance, or pathway — see reflex arc
2 : a sustained luminous discharge of electricity across a gap in a circuit or between electrodes



Medical Definition of ARC (Entry 2 of 2)

1 AIDS-related complex
2 American Red Cross

More from Merriam-Webster on arc

Nglish: Translation of arc for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of arc for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about arc


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!