\ 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 Even though some shows have successfully tackled #MeToo, others using it as the thrust of their narrative arcs have yielded story lines that lacked nuance. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, "How The Morning Show Interrogates the #MeToo Debate," 7 Nov. 2019 No matter how the public views Trubisky and his career arc, the front office likely has a much different view. Dan Wiederer,, "Mitch Trubisky’s future with the Bears ________. Answers to 4 timely topics before the Bears face the Eagles in Week 9.," 31 Oct. 2019 Surveys was literature for a generation of live-tweeters, with a protagonist who narrated her own arc like a slow-motion car crash. Zoë Hu, The New Republic, "Natasha Stagg Has No Illusions," 28 Oct. 2019 The left wing took inspiration from a team that had completed its own redemption arc a few days prior. Diana C. Nearhos,, "Tampa Bay Lightning try to learn from others who turned collapses into championships," 2 Oct. 2019 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Odd, considering its upper altitudes feature wide-open powder fields at the foot of Devil’s Castle and Baldy chutes, perfect for arcing curves favored by the board. Jordan Riefe, Orange County Register, "All snow, all the time at Utah’s new ski paradise for diehards," 31 Oct. 2019 Throughout, the narrative keeps arcing inevitably toward a predictable and tedious eruption of violence. Los Angeles Times, "Review: A funny, intense ‘Harpoon,’ Aaron Paul, a terrifying ‘Clown’ and more," 3 Oct. 2019 More than a week in advance, the European model predicted an oddball westward jog in Sandy’s track, whereas the American model arced it eastward and harmlessly away from the East Coast. Jeff Halverson, Washington Post, "Why weather forecasters still struggle to get the big storms right," 6 Apr. 2018 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

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

19 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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