Definition of arms in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɑːmz/

plural noun

1Weapons; armaments: arms and ammunition [as modifier]: arms exports
More example sentences
  • The leaders of both North and South Korea wished to unite the country by force of arms.
  • What kind of war was the French army expecting and how was it intending to use its arms?
  • Now after the election we need a big campaign to stop any new expenditure on nuclear arms.
2Distinctive emblems or devices originally borne on shields in battle and now forming the heraldic insignia of families, corporations, or countries.
Example sentences
  • Other princes and princesses fly a standard with the royal arms in an ermine border.
crest, emblem, heraldic device, coat of arms, armorial bearing, insignia, escutcheon, shield, heraldry, blazonry



bear arms

Possess or carry a weapon: the right to bear arms
More example sentences
  • The athletes will be gearing up in their shooting clothing and bearing arms if they're entering the clay target events.
  • A wide majority of American voters agree that the Second Amendment guarantees the right of individuals to keep and bear arms.
  • They're not actually covered by any legal framework that allows them to both bear arms and particularly to return fire.
1.1Participate in military operations as a member of the armed forces: those who had a conscientious objection to bearing arms were freed from military service
More example sentences
  • They have never from choice borne arms nor sought distinction in military prowess.
  • He can lawfully perform service in the hospitals of the Army in lieu of bearing arms.
  • All those capable of bearing arms—both young boys and old men—had been mustered for the decisive battle.

a call to arms

A call to defend or make ready for confrontation: it is understood as a call to arms to defend against a takeover
More example sentences
  • Instead it seems to act more as the fiery torch that keeps the impressionable, who only cheer for the good guys, ready for the call to arms.
  • Patriotism is a call to arms to defend yourself against someone else because they do not think like you.
  • It was a tragic end to what started as a call to arms to defend the country's sovereignty, to perform a state duty.

in arms

Armed; prepared to fight.

lay down (one's) arms

see lay1.
Example sentences
  • Retired Major General Robert Harris, from Pennsylvania, who has two sons currently on a mission to Afghanistan, said that during the Gulf War the unit's broadcasts urged the Iraqis to lay down their arms and surrender.
  • What was unusual was this: In honour of the forthcoming Olympic games, both sides agreed to lay down their arms and allow participants to pass through enemy territory unharmed.
  • And the Republicans, I guess, will be so shocked and awed that they will lay down their arms and capitulate.

take up arms

Begin fighting: local people took up arms to fight a dam proposed by the government
More example sentences
  • Some of the others managed to take up arms and a battle began between those who only hours earlier had been allies.
  • The war is southern Sudan erupted in 1983 when black African rebels took up arms to fight Khartoum-based Islamic governments.
  • Pointing to one of our articles, he said, ‘Young people are taking up arms and going to fight because you write this kind of stuff.’
fight, do battle, give battle, wage war, go to war, make war;
attack, mount an attack;
combat, engage, meet, clash, skirmish;
be a soldier, fight for Queen/King and country;

under arms

Equipped and ready for war or battle: the country had up to one million men under arms
More example sentences
  • If you are a state maintaining a million men under arms, in all sorts of places in the world, doing principally peacekeeping functions, you have to ask yourself to what degree this imposes greater cost on our missions.
  • Although the country has a defence budget broadly equivalent to that of Switzerland, there are 1.35 million people under arms.
  • The ministry, with about 1 million men under arms, is the country's largest armed forces agency.

up in arms

Protesting vigorously about something: teachers are up in arms about new school tests
More example sentences
  • Angry residents are up in arms following new proposals to build 14 flats on a former petrol station site in Rawdon.
  • Angry residents are up in arms after railway engineering works caused sleepless nights.
  • Angry residents are up in arms over a proposal to site a giant mobile phone mast near their homes.


Middle English: from Old French armes, from Latin arma.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: arms

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