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 After years of the sales arrow only pointing up, Meta — the company formerly known as Facebook — has turned in its first quarterly revenue decline. Todd Spangler, Variety, 27 July 2022 To do this, compose an email, then click the down arrow next to send, click send later or schedule send and set the date and time. Danielle Abril, Washington Post, 21 July 2022 The recent breakout over 100 is denoted by the second arrow. Bill Sarubbi, Forbes, 19 July 2022 If the second arrow had been used much more aggressively, Japan could have come out of this sooner. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 15 July 2022 Veterinarians were able to remove the arrow and said the dog is expected to survive. Asha C. Gilbert, USA TODAY, 25 May 2022 The arrow did not strike the puppy’s vital arteries. Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times, 24 May 2022 The arrow went through the dog's neck and did not hit any major arteries, according to animal services. Brittany Kasko, Fox News, 24 May 2022 Now the arrow is pointing in the opposite direction. David Sims, The Atlantic, 26 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Launch's default look is subdued, but the board comes with blue and red Esc and arrow keys for extra pop. Scharon Harding, Ars Technica, 8 Mar. 2022 Kate came to the bow and arrow on her own, though Clint's years of experience are still a benefit. Christian Holub,, 3 Nov. 2021 In Bears Ears -- named for the twin buttes that rise above the landscape -- tourists and looters routinely steal ceramic shards, arrow heads and other remnants of the settlements of the Ancestral Puebloan Indians who lived in the area. Arkansas Online, 9 Oct. 2021 Meanwhile, Katurah plays the help, who is readying weapons, from knives to bow and arrow to guns and RPGs in between skits. Rohan Preston, Star Tribune, 8 July 2021 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 See More

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.

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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arrow arum

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Last Updated

11 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Arrow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for arrow


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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