\ˈkərv \

Definition of curve 

(Entry 1 of 3)


: bent or formed into a curve


curved; curving

Definition of curve (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to have or take a turn, change, or deviation from a straight line or plane surface without sharp breaks or angularity

transitive verb

1 : to cause to curve

2 : to throw a curveball to (a batter)

3 : to grade (something, such as an examination) on a curve



Definition of curve (Entry 3 of 3)

1a : a line especially when curved: such as

(1) : the path of a moving point

(2) : a line defined by an equation so that the coordinates of its points are functions of a single independent variable or parameter

b : the graph of a variable

2 : something curved: such as

a : a curving line of the human body

b curves plural : parenthesis

4 : a distribution indicating the relative performance of individuals measured against each other that is used especially in assigning good, medium, or poor grades to usually predetermined proportions of students rather than in assigning grades based on predetermined standards of achievement

5 : trend a growth curve in advertising revenues especially : a prevalent trend or rate of progress often used in the phrases ahead of the curve and behind the curve companies that are behind the curve in adopting new technologies

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Other Words from curve


curvy \ˈkər-​vē \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for curve

Synonyms: Verb

arch, bend, bow, crook, hook, swerve

Synonyms: Noun

angle, arc, arch, bend, bow, crook, curvature, inflection, turn, wind

Antonyms: Verb

straighten, unbend, uncurl

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Examples of curve in a Sentence


The tail curves over the dog's back. The road curves to the left. The fence curves in toward the side of the house. The railing curves out near the observation platform.


The dog's tail has a slight curve. There is a sharp curve coming up in the road. the price curve in relation to inflation
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Walls curved like Richard Serra sculptures encircle a pair of free-floating exam rooms; panels of one-way glass lining the offices echo the need for transparency and privacy. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "At 35, I Went to a Millennial Egg-Freezing Clinic—and Now I’m Rethinking My Future," 12 Nov. 2018 The region draws its name from the Mosel River, which curves its way through Rhineland-Palatinate's Eifel and Hunsrück regions. Katherine Lagrave, Condé Nast Traveler, "When in Germany, Drink Riesling," 4 Sep. 2018 Other details to watch for: wood flooring curved by a steaming machine and by hand, the master bedroom bed that runs eight feet in diameter, plus lots of curved storage, walls, and railings. Jenny Xie, Curbed, "Jackie Gleason’s iconic ‘Round House’ yours for $12M," 31 Aug. 2018 In the beginning, John Snowden’s son lay motionless, his eyes closed, his hands clenched, his feet curved inward. Helen Ubiñas,, "Father of man Tased by police stands endless bedside vigil | Helen Ubiñas," 29 June 2018 Take a tour of the entire state by strolling along the garden’s 5.5 miles of paths curving through 78 acres. Jill K. Robinson, San Francisco Chronicle, "Santa Barbara serenity abounds in region’s 5 best public gardens," 14 June 2018 The basic upward curving smile is achieved primarily by two pairs of zygomaticus muscles. Neil Steinberg, CNN, "How far would you go to be able to smile?," 13 June 2018 The curtain, made of multicolored Mylar strands — disco streamers — curved through the space, creating pockets for solos on what seemed like the city’s largest dance floor. New York Times, "Nick Cave Wants You to Work It Out on the Dance Floor," 8 June 2018 As wind curves around a building and across a window, there is a drop in air pressure close to the window, altering the airflow on the inside. Helen Czerski, WSJ, "Ventilation Tips From the Animal Kingdom," 1 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

To bend the cost curve, focus on what works: harnessing market competition and rewarding innovation that cures disease and lowers health-care costs. Jim Greenwood, WSJ, "Trump’s Socialist Health-Care Scheme," 29 Oct. 2018 Usually storms come to the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic from the south — and those usually curve safely out to sea. Seth Borenstein, Fox News, "'Not a pretty sight': Hurricane Florence has experts worried," 12 Sep. 2018 Usually storms come to the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic from the south — and those usually curve safely out to sea. Seth Borenstein, The Seattle Times, "What scares experts about Hurricane Florence," 11 Sep. 2018 In a minimalist off-the-shoulder stretch dress from Cushnie et Ochs, Lively was in movie star mode, thanks to an outfit that highlighted every curve. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds Are Still Couple’s Style Goals," 8 Aug. 2018 Some games are better at that attrition curve than others. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "The Quiet, Steady Dominance of Pokémon Go," 6 July 2018 For her latest fragrance bottle, the reality star decided to use a mold her iconic body—and really, what says Kim Kardashian more than those famous curves? Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Kim Kardashian Unveiled Her Nude Body Perfume Bottle," 26 Apr. 2018 Lawrence picked a black gown that hugged every curve with a fitted bodice for the occasion. Stephanie Petit,, "Back to Black! Jennifer Lawrence Continues Her Style Streak in a Sultry, Leg-Baring Gown," 20 Feb. 2018 Athletes here participate in a sport that sends racers hurtling headfirst down slick tracks overflowing with treacherous nooks and crannies, where every curve carries with it the chance to slide out of medal contention, if not worse. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "Skeleton riders keep it light with crazy nicknames, as in Hebrew Hammer, Rock Head," 13 Feb. 2018

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


15th century, in the meaning defined above


1594, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


1666, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for curve


Middle English, from Latin curvus; akin to Greek kyrtos convex, Middle Irish cruinn round


Latin curvare, from curvus

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Time Traveler for curve

The first known use of curve was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for curve



English Language Learners Definition of curve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to form a curve : to turn or change from a straight line, shape, or path to a smooth, rounded one

: to cause (something) to form a curve



English Language Learners Definition of curve (Entry 2 of 2)

: a smooth, rounded line, shape, path, etc.

: a curved line on a graph that shows how something changes or is affected by one or more conditions

: a curving line or shape of the human body and especially of a woman's body


\ˈkərv \
curved; curving

Kids Definition of curve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to turn or cause to turn from a straight line or course The road curved to the left.



Kids Definition of curve (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a smooth rounded line or surface Slow down! There's a curve in the road.

2 : something having a somewhat round shape the curves of the body

3 : a ball thrown so that it moves away from a straight course

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More from Merriam-Webster on curve

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with curve

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for curve

Spanish Central: Translation of curve

Nglish: Translation of curve for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of curve for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about curve

Comments on curve

What made you want to look up curve? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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