\ 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 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 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 Sinclair stripped the ball off Carli Lloyd, who carelessly dribbled into black-and-red shirts, and Sinclair fired from behind the penalty arc. Caitlin Murray, oregonlive, "Portland Thorns win NWSL Challenge Cup title over Gotham FC in thrilling PK shootout," 8 May 2021 Christy’s arc with Nora has been fascinating in terms of how different Nora is as a sponsor than Marjorie has been; Mom producers always seem conscious of their responsibility to show all the ways recovery can work. Tara Ariano, Vulture, "12 Essential Mom Episodes," 7 May 2021 One minute and 56 seconds into the second quarter Wednesday in Utah, Jazz forward Joe Ingles took a pass on the left arc and waited. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "Gregg Popovich expresses 'empathy' for Spurs team running on empty," 6 May 2021 But the movie's main arc is Motley's changing mindset — from seeking punishment to getting to forgiveness — as the criminal case moves through the courts. Chris Foran, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "In 2014, he was shot in an attempted carjacking in Milwaukee. In 2021, his story is hitting the film festival circuit.," 5 May 2021 For now, the starting job seems to be his to lose, unless Lance’s arc is insanely fast. Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle, "With Trey Lance, all looks perfect for 49ers. They must brace for what's next," 1 May 2021 In addition to Sam’s arc, the TV show offers us Bucky’s (Sebastian Stan) evolution into a true Avenger. Chris Smith, BGR, "Marvel just explained the biggest controversy from ‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier’," 28 Apr. 2021 Cut off from the rest of Romania by the arc of the Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania still embodies a certain rural self-sufficiency. Fiona Kerr, Condé Nast Traveler, "In Transylvania, a New Hotel Is Carrying Tradition Into the Future," 22 Apr. 2021 Midway through the third quarter of the Celtics’ loss to the Nets on Friday, Evan Fournier caught a pass at the left arc as Brooklyn center DeAndre Jordan moved toward him., "Why Evan Fournier of the Celtics felt it was important to play Friday, even though he wasn’t ready," 24 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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, "Logan Eggleston fuels Texas volleyball's run to Final Four," 22 Apr. 2021 Combined with a Savoir bed, the florals arc across the headboard in a bright half mandala. Kate Mcgregor, ELLE Decor, "This New Bed Collaboration Is a Fashionista’s Dream," 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, "'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

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 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Arc.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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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
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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