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 Borgo San Felice has another new arrow to its quiver. Lee Marshall, Travel + Leisure, "Live La Dolce Vita at These Stunning Tuscan Hotels and Villas," 1 May 2021 Mark an arrow on each piece to indicate grain direction. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "The Ultimate Guide to Building (and Restoring) a Butcher Block," 1 May 2021 Environmental police are trying to find out who shot an arrow through the body of a red-tail hawk in Newtown. Christine Dempsey,, "Hawk recovering after being shot with arrow in Newtown," 19 Apr. 2021 Could this finally be the disruptive arrow in T-Mobile’s quiver? Dwight Silverman, Forbes, "T-Mobile’s 5G Home Internet Service Looks Nice ... If You Can Get It," 19 Apr. 2021 Another javelina was found more than two weeks ago with an arrow in its face. Chelsea Curtis, The Arizona Republic, "Tucson officials free javelina from trap after nearly a week of searching," 31 Mar. 2021 Rose Leslie has landed the titular role in HBO’s adaptation of The Time Traveler’s Wife, bringing her back to the network that once killed her with an arrow through the chest. Devon Ivie, Vulture, "Rose Leslie Will Get All Timey-Wimey in HBO’s The Time Traveler’s Wife Series," 26 Feb. 2021 Click on the icon with an arrow in the top left of the map to view a list of locations. Globe Staff,, "Are you 75 or older? Here’s how to get signed up for the vaccine," 27 Jan. 2021 But at his shot, the deer jumped the stream and his arrow hit high. Beka Garris, Outdoor Life, "The 186-Inch Arkansas Longbow Buck with Seven Lives," 26 Nov. 2020 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, "Man who threatened protesters with a bow and arrow is sent to jail," 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, "Tested: 2021 Chevy Tahoe Z71 Goes Big Where It Counts," 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, "Indiana nursing homes 'prepare for the worst' with residents more vulnerable to COVID-19," 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., "Lionel Messi: His 32 Greatest Moments on His 32nd Birthday," 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, "13 Amazing Animal Mounts," 6 Mar. 2020 On December 3rd, Strong arrowed a 5-½-year-old buck that grossed 152 inches. Scott Bestul, Field & Stream, "The Best Bucks of December 2019," 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., "Ronaldo: Looking Back at 6 of he Brazilian's Most Iconic Moments on His Birthday," 18 Sep. 2019 Most players bring their own handcrafted two-piece sticks inside cases akin to arrow quiver bags., "In Malden, a billiards champion and his pool hall rack up a fervent following - The Boston Globe," 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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Statistics for arrow

Last Updated

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Arrow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 May. 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.

Comments on arrow

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