Definition of curve in English:


Syllabification: curve
Pronunciation: /kərv


  • 1A line or outline that 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.
  • 1.2 (curves) A curving contour of a woman’s figure.
    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.
  • 1.4A system in which grades are assigned to students based on their performance relative to other students, regardless of their actual knowledge of the subject: grades were marked on a curve
    More example sentences
    • The cities were then ranked first to last and assigned numerical grades based on a relative curve.
    • A measurement of compliance, like a school exam, can either be based on an absolute scale or reflect a curve of relative performance.
    • Designing assessments to spread student scores permits the use of the normal curve to assign grades.
  • 1.5 Baseball another term for curveball.
    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.


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.
    bend, turn, loop, wind, meander, undulate, snake, spiral, twist, coil, curl; arc, archbent, arched, bowed, crescent, curving, wavy, sinuous, serpentine, meandering, undulating, curvilinear, curvy


ahead of (or behind) the curve

(Especially of a business or politician) ahead of (or lagging behind) current thinking or trends.
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

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.


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

More definitions of curve

Definition of curve in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day kerf
Pronunciation: kərf
a slit made by cutting with a saw