\ 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 arc (audio) \; arcing\ ˈär-​kiŋ How to pronounce arc (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 The film version of the musical adds a redemption arc for James Corden’s Barry, in which the character reconciles with his estranged mother, though his estranged father isn’t quite ready. Jackson Mchenry, Vulture, "With a big Netflix deal and the power to green-light almost anything, Ryan Murphy has become the ultimate insider. And his work is suffering.," 4 Jan. 2021 The Bad Batch made their debut in The Clone Wars, returning for a fantastic story arc in the series' final season. Kate Tully Ellsworth, USA TODAY, "Here's every new Star Wars series coming to Disney+," 12 Dec. 2020 Plus, the roles that followed her strict self-policing weren't too bad, either; Portman's filmography also includes the Star Wars trilogy, Close, V for Vendetta, Black Swan, and roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Thor story arc. Ineye Komonibo,, "Natalie Portman Explains How Her Early Roles Negatively Affected Her Sexuality," 10 Dec. 2020 One thing that’s pretty obvious, though, is that there’s not a lot of arc-bending toward justice going on here. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Romania’s State-Run Health-Care Disaster," 4 Dec. 2020 The Atom on The CW's Legends of Tomorrow, has been cast in a four-episode arc on The Rookie. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Brandon Routh joins The Rookie as a 'polarizing' police officer," 3 Dec. 2020 Each of the eight episodes focuses on a specific paranormal incident, a throwback to a classic monster-of-the-week format, although the eagle-eyed viewer will spot a few key clues to a broader narrative arc that culminates in the final two episodes. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Creeptastic Truth Seekers takes its horror seriously—but not too seriously," 13 Nov. 2020 AK Steel sold most of its product to the automotive industry, and assets gained in the purchase can further open Cliffs' exposure to the electric arc furnace (EAF) market, among others. Jerry Burnes, Star Tribune, "2020 has been transformational year for Iron Range mining," 9 Nov. 2020 Faith plays a big role in Leti's character arc, as does family, rejection of family, rejecting family. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Jurnee Smollett on Why Lovecraft Country Is Protest Art," 30 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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, "'Selena: The Series' sings nostalgia... slowly," 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, "Moving in Sync Creates Surprising Social Bonds among People," 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,, "Aviation Outsider Builds Supersonic Jet for Transatlantic Flight," 6 Oct. 2020 Strange trails arc through the sky, as if fireworks were being set off in daylight. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "A Feminist Fractal in “The Glorias”," 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, "Watch This Mesmerizing Time-Lapse of the Sun’s Last Decade," 2 July 2020 His straight black hair seemed to spring from his head, bowing to gravity at the tips and arcing toward his narrow mouth. Theodore Ross, Harper's Magazine, "[Letter from Ho Chi Minh City]," 25 May 2020 Astronomers aren’t sure if these flares are the result of clumps of hot gas falling in, shock waves moving through the gas, or snapping arches of magnetic material, similar to the solar flares that arc out from the sun. Quanta Magazine, "Why Are Black Holes So Bright?," 22 Apr. 2020 After coasting to the highest point of its arcing flight, the Crew Dragon trunk will separate, and the capsule will orient itself for a return to Earth. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "SpaceX delays Crew Dragon escape test until Sunday [Updated]," 18 Jan. 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.

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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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Time Traveler for arc

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for arc

Last Updated

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Arc.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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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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