\ 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

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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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The latest in the Star Wars universe is Obi-Wan Kenobi, with its six-episode arc coming to a conclusion on June 22. Nishka Dhawan, Rolling Stone, 24 June 2022 Some lives have a long story arc, and others are episodic. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 16 June 2022 One thing Fukuyama, 69, has not gotten sick of is trying to answer the biggest questions about democracy, human nature and the long arc of historical progress. New York Times, 10 May 2022 Even if the very long arc of Earth's climate history eventually does bend toward environmental justice, the new IPCC report lays out clearly why each and every person must put their full privilege-dependent-weight behind bending it faster. Joan Meiners, The Arizona Republic, 6 Apr. 2022 What followed is a terrifying story for the ages, a dark and deadly story now preserved on the pages of history books and part of the long arc of humanity. Thomas Farragher,, 3 Apr. 2022 The roofline meets the C-pillar in a long arc that tapers to an elegant swan’s tail. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 5 Mar. 2022 Why focus on the last 30 years in the long arc of Asian American history? NBC News, 3 Mar. 2022 Over the past 20 years, the city of Birmingham has enjoyed the long arc of a comeback story. Joseph Goodman |, al, 16 Feb. 2022 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 See More

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.

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

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Time Traveler for arc

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near arc

arbutus pink



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Statistics for arc

Last Updated

28 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Arc.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for 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


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