a. A line that deviates from straightness in a smooth, continuous fashion.
b. A surface that deviates from planarity in a smooth, continuous fashion.
c. Something characterized by such a line or surface, especially a rounded line or contour of the human body.
2. A relatively smooth bend in a road or other course.
a. A line representing data on a graph.
b. A trend derived from or as if from such a graph: "Once again, the politicians are behind the curve" (Ted Kennedy).
4. A graphic representation showing the relative performance of individuals as measured against each other, used especially as a method of grading students in which the assignment of grades is based on predetermined proportions of students.
a. The graph of a function on a coordinate plane.
b. The intersection of two surfaces in three dimensions.
c. The graph of the solutions to any equation of two variables.
6. Baseball A curve ball.
7. Slang Something that is unexpected or designed to trick or deceive.
v. curved, curv·ing, curves
To move in or take the shape of a curve: The path curves around the lake.
1. To cause to curve.
2. Baseball To pitch (a ball) with a curve.
3. To grade (students, for example) on a curve.
[From Middle English, curved, from Latin curvus; see sker-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots. N., sense 6, short for CURVE BALL.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.