Definition of curve in English:

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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.
bend, turn, loop, curl, twist, hook;
arc, arch, bow, undulation, curvature, meander
1.2 (curves) A curving contour of a woman’s figure.
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.
Example sentences
  • Finally, Ankiel struck Perez out on another curve.
  • The tall right-hander took his sign, went into his windup, and threw the most hellacious curve I had ever seen.
  • He throws a low 90s fastball and mixes it with a big-league curve.


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, arch
bent, 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.
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
  • Life will always throw you curves.
  • "You've done everything that you can think of to ensure mission success, but Mars can still throw you a curve," said the former NASA Mars czar.
  • Every once in a while life throws you a curve.


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

  • curb from Late Middle English:

    A curb was a strap passing under the jaw of a horse and fastened to the bit, used for checking an unruly horse. This caused the horse to bend its neck, an action that produced the word. It derives from Old French courber ‘to bend or bow’, from Latin curvare, also the source of curve (Late Middle English). The idea of ‘holding back’ led to the more general sense of a check or restraint. Curb is also the American spelling of what in British English is a kerb (mid 17th century), a stone edging to a pavement or path. The original idea here was of a border or frame bending round something, for example, the top of a well or a trapdoor.

Words that rhyme with curve

conserve, Deneuve, derv, hors d'oeuvre, nerve, observe, roman-fleuve, serve, subserve, swerve, verve

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: curve

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