Share this entry

Share this page

curve

Line breaks: curve
Pronunciation: /kəːv
 
/

Definition of curve in English:

noun

1A line or outline which gradually deviates from being straight for some or all of its length: the parapet wall sweeps down in a bold curve
More example sentences
  • Light from the street lamps would wrap around the compact space, following the natural curves.
  • To his greatest regret later in life, he never published an account of the method that allowed the computation of areas, lengths of curves, tangents, and maxima and minima of functions.
  • And the length of the curve is again a discontinuous function of the starting point.
1.1North American A place where a road deviates from a straight path: the vehicle rounded a curve
More example sentences
  • The collision occurred when the driver lost control of the vehicle at a curve in the road while attempting to avoid the Federal Border Guard.
  • Each turn around Pacific Cove's many winding curves revealed smaller roads and hairpin turns.
  • Figure 5 provides an illustration of the corner tracking-error issue when negotiating a curve in a road.
Synonyms
bend, turn, loop, curl, twist, hook;
arch, bow, half-moon;
corner, dog-leg, oxbow;
bulge, swell, curvature, camber;
technical flexure, trajectory, inflection
1.2 (curves) A curving contour of a woman’s figure: her dress twisted tightly round her generous curves
More example sentences
  • For now, you could throw a T-shirt over your bikini, shop for a swimsuit that downplays your curves or figure out where you could enjoy a girls-only swim.
  • Her figures now show off curves as well as angles, and include touches of Impressionism as they pose, row boats and toddle babies across sandy beaches.
  • Her body with its generous curves still followed its own limpid rhythms and her long braid with its colourful Patiala parandis moved slowly to and fro upon that impregnable behind.
1.3A line on a graph (whether straight or curved) showing how one quantity varies with respect to another: the population curve
More example sentences
  • The graphs are likelihood curves of population growth rate when the population size estimate is at its maximum-likelihood value.
  • From the fact that Newton uses the letter v for the ordinate, it may be inferred that Newton is thinking of the curve as being a graph of velocity against time.
  • This measures the difference between the areas under the curve of a graph of actual distribution of cumulative income and one indicating equality of income distribution.
1.4 Baseball another term for curveball. he relies on a couple of curves and a modest fastball
More example sentences
  • A midseason adjustment to throw the curve overhand helped his control.
  • His fastball regularly hits 95 mph, and he throws a good slider and curve.
  • He understands changing speeds better than any other prospect, and mixes in an above-average curve.

verb

Back to top  
Form or cause to form a curve: [no object]: her mouth curved in a smile [with object]: starting with arms outstretched, curve the body sideways
More example sentences
  • She seemed more amused as her perfectly plucked eyebrows raised, a small smile curving her mouth.
  • Her lips a luscious red with her mouth curving into a small smile as she approached him.
  • Their tail is carried over their backs either tightly or loosely curled or curved in an arch.
Synonyms
bend, turn, loop, wind, meander, undulate, snake, spiral, twist, coil, curl;
arc, arch, bow;
technical inflect
rare incurve
bent, arched, bowed, crescent, curving, wavy, twisted, twisty, sinuous, serpentine, meandering, undulating, curvilinear, curvy;
vaulted, rounded, concave, convex, domed, humped;
literary embowed
rare curviform

Origin

late Middle English: from Latin curvare 'to bend', from curvus 'bent'. The noun dates from the late 17th century.

Phrases

ahead of (or behind) the curve

1
(Especially of a business or politician) ahead of (or lagging behind) current thinking or trends: we are continually looking for ways to stay ahead of the curve and provide added value to our consumers
More example sentences
  • An increase in imports from overseas, and automation of the weaving processes, mean that Selectus has had to keep ahead of the curve to stay in business.
  • Dent makes it his business to be ahead of the curve.
  • We can then begin to be ahead of the curve instead of behind it.

throw someone a curve

2
North American informal another way of saying throw someone a curveball. just when you think you have this parenting thing down pat, they throw you a curve
More example sentences
  • Just when we got a bearing on a situation, the instructors would throw us another curve.
  • There's nothing like some long-term epidemiological data to really throw a curve to the diet industry.
  • This being the third edition of "Endurance," Zhou probably should have known that the producers would throw the contestants a curve.

Definition of curve in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day jaunt
Pronunciation: dʒɔːnt
noun
a short excursion or journey made for pleasure