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

Definition of arc

 (Entry 1 of 4)

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 arc11 minutes 3 seconds of arc
6 : a continuous progression or line of development a story's dramatic arc


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

Definition of arc (Entry 2 of 4)

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 4)

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

Definition of ARC (Entry 4 of 4)

1 AIDS-related complex
2 American Red Cross

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Synonyms & Antonyms for arc

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In the greater arc of the #MeToo movement, lawyers have lurked in the shadows, unnamed scribes formalizing agreements meant to stay secret. Elizabeth C. Tippett, The Conversation, "Weinstein may be a monster, but the lawyers who enabled him are the real villains in #MeToo takedown ‘She Said’," 12 Sep. 2019 There's just little time here to develop satisfying conclusions to their narrative arcs, so we're instead left with abrupt little happily-ever-after crumbs. Robyn Bahr, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Transparent: Musicale Finale': TV Review," 16 Sep. 2019 Nussbaum chronicles this transition, and her career arc is emblematic of it. Adam Wilson, Harper's magazine, "Good Bad Bad Good," 16 Sep. 2019 Elisabeth Moss, in particular, seems to have been playing June as a suicide bomber all season long, a choice that makes much more sense of her entire arc. Emily Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "The Handmaid’s Tale closes a messy season with a surprisingly satisfying finale," 14 Aug. 2019 Her look on this day speaks to both her design aesthetic and career arc thus far; bold, colorful, whimsical and with a connection to Kanye West. Melissa Magsaysay,, "Meet Chicago native Maisie Schloss, the first designer in Kanye West’s incubator program," 14 Aug. 2019 Lozada Toledo also points to ridge lines shaded onto the map's topography; a few are close to the arc. Lizzie Wade, Science | AAAS, "In search of the ‘white Jaguar’: Archaeologists travel deep into the jungle to find a lost Maya city," 5 Sep. 2019 Just think of the 6-foot-8, 240-pounder trying to chase shooters around the 3-point arc. Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Pistons mailbag: Does adding Carmelo Anthony make sense this season?," 19 Aug. 2019 To prevent such a disaster, in early July a giant crane began hoisting 7-ton wooden frames cut to the exact specifications of the flying buttresses, to be wedged inside each arc, in order to weigh them down and stop the building from shifting. Vivienne Walt / Paris, Time, "Inside the Fight Over How Notre Dame Should Rise From the Ashes," 25 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Quarterback Jared Goff, without play action, dropped back and arced a pass down the field. Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times, "What we learned from the Rams’ 27-9 win over the New Orleans Saints," 16 Sep. 2019 The lavender selfie, typically a young woman wearing a prairie dress and a straw hat posing amid rows of purple blooms arcing to the horizon, has become an image ubiquitous on Instagram every June and July during harvest season. Steven Kurutz, New York Times, "Why Does Everything Smell, So Peacefully, of Lavender?," 14 Sep. 2019 Quarterback Adam Arardian arced a ball over the Indians secondary and into the hands of Ben Burnham, who ran down the seam of the left side for a 49-yard touchdown. Nathan Cambridge, Burbank Leader, "Burbank football ends nonleague schedule with loss to Hart," 13 Sep. 2019 Behind Blitzer was a panorama of the Earth, that hot blue dot, with a thin haze of atmosphere — our protector, our smotherer — arcing across the stage. Dan Zak, Washington Post, "CNN’s epic town hall on climate was a perfect time capsule for an unprecedented moment," 5 Sep. 2019 Davis would move on to become the Raiders' majority owner, and Walsh would move on to a series of coaching jobs, his trajectory arcing ever upward, toward the Hall of Fame. Jon Wertheim,, "How the Influence of Al Davis Shaped the Modern NFL," 27 Aug. 2019 The high-arcing pass floated down between two Stanford defenders, landing perfectly in the outstretched arms of Amon-ra St. Brown for a touchdown. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, "Kedon Slovis’ stellar first start leads USC over No. 23 Stanford," 7 Sep. 2019 In a span of three plays, Glennon found Grant for an 18-yard gain, arced a throw to Keon Hatcher up the sideline for 27 yards and hit Marcell Ateman for 19 yards. Matt Kawahara,, "Raiders open preseason with 14-3 win over Rams," 10 Aug. 2019 Winston’s only miss was an arcing bomb to Breshad Perriman that was a few yards too long. Rick Stroud,, "A lot to like in Bucs’ preseason opener, even if it came against Steelers’ backups," 10 Aug. 2019

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.

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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

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)

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Statistics for arc

Last Updated

5 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for arc

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

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More Definitions for arc


How to pronounce ARC (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of arc

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a line or shape that is curved like part of a circle
technical : 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
technical : 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on arc

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for arc

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with arc

Spanish Central: Translation of arc

Nglish: Translation of arc for Spanish Speakers

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

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