ar·​row | \ ˈer-(ˌ)ō How to pronounce arrow (audio) , ˈa-(ˌ)rō \
plural arrows

Definition of arrow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a missile shot from a bow and usually having a slender shaft, a pointed head, and feathers at the butt
2 : something shaped like an arrow especially : a mark (as on a map or signboard) to indicate direction
3 : a painful or damaging experience or occurrence that is likened to being shot with an arrow … to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune …— William Shakespeare


arrowed; arrowing; arrows

Definition of arrow (Entry 2 of 2)

1a intransitive : to move fast and straight like an arrow in flight Just below us, a hunting peregrine falcon arrowed across the sere fields …— Tom Mueller
b transitive : to hit or throw (something) toward a target fast and straight like an arrow Mia Hamm … doesn't even look up as she arrows a pass to her teammate with almost telepathic confidence.— David Hirshey
2 transitive, chiefly US : to shoot (an animal) with an arrow In the spring, only boy turkeys can be shot or arrowed.— Fred LeBrun

Illustration of arrow

Illustration of arrow


arrow 1

In the meaning defined above

Examples of arrow in a Sentence

Noun The arrow on the map points north.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And there would always—always!—be one arrow that would go completely off the page. Faran Krentcil, Harper's BAZAAR, 8 June 2021 Another way to allow left-hand turns is to stop oncoming traffic and give cars turning left their own green arrow. Vikash V. Gayah, The Conversation, 2 June 2021 Let your arrow point you to some of the most spiritually transformative sacred land in the world in the Himalayas. Amy Solara Mackey, Travel + Leisure, 25 May 2021 Mini Hyperspeed keyboard is a 65% form-factor deck with full-sized standard, arrow, and navigation keys, plus Bluetooth and wireless connectivity. Anthony Karcz, Forbes, 25 May 2021 Over time, the immaculate-looking, straight-arrow of Dr. Brooke Taylor slowly deflates as viewers learn she is wounded by loss — but hiding it. Mark Kennedy, Star Tribune, 21 May 2021 My app when the AirTag is within close range, and a giant arrow will guide you to where to look. Joanna Stern, WSJ, 9 May 2021 This dismal and sad show shot another arrow in the heart of the dream factory. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, 6 May 2021 The car then hit a red HOV arrow, drove across all lanes of traffic and the grassy median, department spokesman Raul Reyna said. Dallas News, 22 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Video captured McCormick in an argument with some protesters, and showed him getting a bow and arrow out of his car and pointing it at several people. Scott D. Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 17 Nov. 2020 The steering tracks arrow straight, and the brakes inspire confidence with both a 184-foot stop from 70 mph and firm feel. K.c. Colwell, Car and Driver, 10 Aug. 2020 Residents at Windsor Ridge in Jeffersonville are using Nerf guns and bow and arrow sets, miniature dart boards, a bowling set, remote-control cars and more during the pandemic to pass time. David J. Kim, The Courier-Journal, 31 Mar. 2020 However, the crowning moment was without doubt his third of the night, Messi parting Real like the red sea and arrowing a fierce shot beyond Iker Casillas., 24 June 2019 The Pope & Young Club world-record brown bear—shown here squabbling with a bald eagle that has stolen his breakfast—was arrowed in 2018 by the owner of Brush Country Studios, Chris Cammack. Ralph P. Stuart, Outdoor Life, 6 Mar. 2020 On December 3rd, Strong arrowed a 5-½-year-old buck that grossed 152 inches. Scott Bestul, Field & Stream, 7 Jan. 2020 Picking up possession midway inside the Man Utd half, the Madrid number 11 took a few strides forward, shifted the ball onto his right foot, and unleashed a vicious effort which somehow curled, dipped and arrowed past Barthez., 18 Sep. 2019 Most players bring their own handcrafted two-piece sticks inside cases akin to arrow quiver bags., 7 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'arrow.' 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 arrow


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1827, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for arrow


Middle English arwe, arowe, going back to Old English earh (strong noun, probably neuter), arwe, arewe (weak feminine noun), going back to Germanic *arhwō- "arrow," presumably originally an adjectival derivative "belonging to the bow" (whence also Old Icelandic ǫr, genitive ǫrvar "arrow," and, with an additional suffix, Gothic arhwazna), going back to dialectal Indo-European *arkw- "bow," whence also Latin arcus "bow, rainbow, arch"

Note: See the Oxford English Dictionary, third edition, for details of the Old and Middle English developments. The editors point out that earh is a rare poetic word, occurring mainly in the compound earhfaru "flight of arrows," the more usual older words for "arrow" being strǣl and flā; the popularity of arwe in later Old English prose may have resulted from influence of the Old Norse word. — The etymon *arkw- "bow" (*h2erkw- if a is excluded as a possible vowel) has been compared with various names for plants, as Greek árkeuthos "juniper (Juniperus macrocarpa)," Russian rakíta (for *rokíta by vowel reduction) "the willow Salix fragilis," Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian ràkita "osier (Salix viminalis)" (both from Slavic *orkyta), Latvian ẽrcis "juniper." The presumed connection would be from the use of wood from these small trees as material for bows, though this is questionable (especially in the case of willows). In any case both sets of words appear to be of substratal origin.


derivative of arrow entry 1

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Time Traveler for arrow

Time Traveler

The first known use of arrow was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

12 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Arrow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for arrow



English Language Learners Definition of arrow

: a weapon that is made to be shot from a bow and that is usually a stick with a point at one end and feathers at the other end
: a mark (such as →) that is shaped like an arrow and that is used to show direction


ar·​row | \ ˈer-ō How to pronounce arrow (audio) \

Kids Definition of arrow

1 : a weapon that is shot from a bow and is usually a stick with a point at one end and feathers at the other
2 : a mark to show direction Follow the arrows on the signs.


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