Definition of arms in English:

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Pronunciation: /ärmz/

plural noun

1Weapons and ammunition; armaments: they were subjugated by force of arms [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.
weapons, weaponry, firearms, guns, ordnance, artillery, armaments, munitions, matériel
2Distinctive emblems or devices, originally borne on shields in battle and now forming the heraldic insignia of families, corporations, or countries. See also coat of arms.
Example sentences
  • Other princes and princesses fly a standard with the royal arms in an ermine border.
crest, emblem, coat of arms, heraldic device, insignia, escutcheon, shield



a call to arms

A call to prepare for confrontation: 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.

take up arms

Begin fighting.
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.’

under arms

Equipped and ready for war or battle: the Empire now had half a 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 (about/over)

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

Syllabification: arms

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