# Arch vs. Arc — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Updated on October 29, 2023
Arch is a curved structure, often supporting weight. Arc is a segment of a circle or curve.

## Key Differences

Arch is a structural or decorative element that spans an open space while maintaining a curved or semi-circular shape. These have been used in construction and architecture for centuries, notably in bridges and old buildings. Arc, on the other hand, typically refers to a part of the circumference of a circle or any other curved line. It doesn't carry the same structural connotations as an arch.
In many contexts, Arch is associated with structural design. For instance, a bridge may use arches to distribute weight and provide support. Arc generally lacks this structural application. Instead, it may be used in mathematical contexts or to describe a particular curving trajectory, such as the arc of a ball in flight.
While Arch can also describe a behavior or mannerism, such as being mischievous or playful (e.g., "an arch grin"), Arc does not have this range of meanings. Instead, the term arc can relate to narratives, denoting the development or resolution of a story or character.
Another noteworthy difference is the application in the field of electricity. Arc can refer to an electric arc, a discharge that occurs when electricity jumps between two electrodes. In contrast, Arch does not have a direct application in this context.
Lastly, from a grammatical perspective, Arch can be used as a prefix meaning "chief" or "principal" (e.g., archenemy), while Arc doesn't have such a prefix usage.

## Comparison Chart

### Basic Definition

A curved structure, often supporting weight.
A segment of a circle or curve.

### Common Usage

Architectural and structural designs.
Mathematical and geometrical contexts.

### Extended Meanings

Can denote playfulness or mischief.
Can refer to narrative development in literature.

### Electrical Context

Doesn't have a specific application.
Refers to an electric discharge.

### Grammatical Use

Can be used as a prefix (e.g., archenemy).
Doesn't have a prefix usage.

## Compare with Definitions

#### Arch

Mischievous or playful.
She gave him an arch smile.

#### Arc

A segment of a circle.
The rainbow formed a beautiful arc in the sky.

#### Arch

A foot structure.
She has high arches in her feet.

#### Arc

An electric discharge.
The electrician warned about the dangerous arc from the exposed wire.

#### Arch

A curved form or path.
The cat stretched in a graceful arch.

#### Arc

Something shaped like a curve or arch
The vivid arc of a rainbow.

#### Arch

An arch is a vertical curved structure that spans an elevated space and may or may not support the weight above it, or in case of a horizontal arch like an arch dam, the hydrostatic pressure against it. Arches may be synonymous with vaults, but a vault may be distinguished as a continuous arch forming a roof.

#### Arc

(Mathematics) A segment of a circle.

#### Arch

A usually curved structure forming the upper edge of an open space and supporting the weight above it, as in a bridge or doorway.

An electric arc.

#### Arch

A structure, such as a freestanding monument, shaped like an inverted U.

#### Arc

(Astronomy) The apparent path of a celestial body as it rises above and falls below the horizon.

#### Arch

A curve with the ends down and the middle up:the arch of a raised eyebrow.

#### Arc

A progression of events suggesting narrative cohesion, especially one that rises to a climax and settles to a final conclusion.

#### Arch

(Anatomy)An organ or structure having a curved or bowlike appearance, especially either of two arched sections of the bony structure of the foot.

To form an arc.

#### Arch

To provide with an arch:arch a passageway.

#### Arc

To move or seem to move in a curved path
The stars that arc across the sky.

#### Arch

To cause to form an arch or similar curve.

#### Arc

(astronomy) That part of a circle which a heavenly body appears to pass through as it moves above and below the horizon.

#### Arch

To bend backward:The dancers alternately arched and hunched their backs.

#### Arc

(geometry) A continuous part of the circumference of a circle (circular arc) or of another curve.

#### Arch

To span:"the rude bridge that arched the flood"(Ralph Waldo Emerson).

#### Arc

A curve, in general. Category:en:Curves

#### Arch

To form an arch or archlike curve:The high fly ball arched toward the stands.

#### Arc

A band contained within parallel curves, or something of that shape.

Chief; principal
Their arch foe.

#### Arc

(electrics) A flow of current across an insulating medium; especially a hot, luminous discharge between either two electrodes or as lightning.

#### Arch

Mischievous; roguish
"She ... was arch enough to inform the queen whenever I committed any folly that she thought would be diverting to her majesty" (Jonathan Swift).

A story arc.

#### Arch

Teasing, ironic, or sardonic
"I know, Edy Boardman said none too amiably with an arch glance from her shortsighted eyes. I know who is Tommy's sweetheart" (James Joyce).

#### Arc

(mathematics) A continuous mapping from a real interval (typically [0, 1]) into a space.

#### Arch

An inverted U shape.

#### Arc

(graph theory) A directed edge.

#### Arch

An arch-shaped arrangement of trapezoidal stones, designed to redistribute downward force outward.

#### Arc

The three-point line.

#### Arch

(architecture) An architectural element having the shape of an arch

#### Arc

(film) An arclight.

#### Arch

Any place covered by an arch; an archway.
To pass into the arch of a bridge

#### Arc

(ambitransitive) To move following a curved path.

#### Arch

An arc; a part of a curve.

#### Arc

(transitive) To shape into an arc; to hold in the form of an arc.

#### Arch

A natural arch-shaped opening in a rock mass.

#### Arc

(intransitive) To form an electrical arc.

#### Arch

(anatomy) Curved part of the bottom of a foot.

#### Arc

A portion of a curved line; as, the arc of a circle or of an ellipse.

(obsolete) chief

#### Arc

A curvature in the shape of a circular arc or an arch; as, the colored arc (the rainbow); the arc of Hadley's quadrant.

#### Arch

To form into an arch shape.
The cat arched its back

#### Arc

An arch.
Statues and trophies, and triumphal arcs.

#### Arch

To cover with an arch or arches.

#### Arc

The apparent arc described, above or below the horizon, by the sun or other celestial body. The diurnal arc is described during the daytime, the nocturnal arc during the night.

#### Arch

Knowing, clever, mischievous
I attempted to hide my emotions, but an arch remark escaped my lips.

#### Arc

To form a voltaic arc, as an electrical current in a broken or disconnected circuit.

#### Arch

Principal; primary
They were arch enemies.

#### Arc

Electrical conduction through a gas in an applied electric field

#### Arch

Any part of a curved line.

#### Arc

A continuous portion of a circle

#### Arch

Usually a curved member made up of separate wedge-shaped solids, with the joints between them disposed in the direction of the radii of the curve; used to support the wall or other weight above an opening. In this sense arches are segmental, round (i. e., semicircular), or pointed.

#### Arc

Something curved in shape

#### Arch

Any place covered by an arch; an archway; as, to pass into the arch of a bridge.

#### Arc

Form an arch or curve;
Her back arches
Her hips curve nicely

#### Arch

Any curvature in the form of an arch; as, the arch of the aorta.

#### Arc

A trajectory following a curve.
The basketball traced an arc before falling into the hoop.

#### Arch

A chief.
My worthy arch and patron comes to-night.

#### Arc

A narrative's development.
The character's arc was full of growth and redemption.

#### Arch

To cover with an arch or arches.

#### Arc

A continuous progression or line of development.
The arc of history bends towards justice.

#### Arch

To form or bend into the shape of an arch.
The horse arched his neck.

#### Arch

To form into an arch; to curve.

#### Arch

Chief; eminent; greatest; principal.
The most arch act of piteous massacre.

#### Arch

Cunning or sly; sportively mischievous; roguish; as, an arch look, word, lad.
[He] spoke his request with so arch a leer.

#### Arch

A curved shape in the vertical plane that spans an opening

#### Arch

A curved bony structure supporting or enclosing organs (especially arches of the feet)

#### Arch

A passageway under an arch

#### Arch

(architecture) a masonry construction (usually curved) for spanning an opening and supporting the weight above it

#### Arch

Form an arch or curve;
Her back arches
Her hips curve nicely

#### Arch

(of persons) highest in rank or authority or office;
His arch rival

#### Arch

(used of behavior or attitude) characteristic of those who treat others with condescension

#### Arch

Expert in skulduggery;
An arch criminal

#### Arch

A curved symmetrical structure.
The stone arch stood strong for centuries.

#### Arch

He's the arch critic of the film industry.

## Common Curiosities

#### Can Arch be used to describe a person's behavior?

Yes, Arch can mean mischievous or playful, e.g., "an arch grin."

#### Do Arch and Arc have electrical contexts?

Only Arc does, referring to an electric discharge. Arch does not.

#### Is Arc related to architecture?

Not directly. An Arc is typically a segment of a circle or a curve, not a structural element like an Arch.

#### Is an Arch always structural?

Mostly, but it can also refer to shapes or behaviors without structural implications.

#### What is an Arch in architecture?

An Arch is a curved symmetrical structure spanning an opening and supporting the weight above it.

#### Can Arc denote a story's progression?

Yes, Arc can refer to the development or resolution of a story or character.

#### Can Arch function as a prefix?

Yes, Arch can be a prefix meaning "chief" or "principal," like in "archenemy."

#### Is there a prefix usage for Arc?

No, Arc doesn't function as a prefix like Arch does.

#### How does an Arc relate to a circle?

An Arc is a segment of the circumference of a circle.

#### Can both Arch and Arc refer to narrative structures?

No, only Arc can refer to a narrative's development, while Arch doesn't have this meaning.

#### Can Arc be used in mathematical contexts?

Yes, Arc often refers to a segment of a circle or other curves in mathematics.

#### Does Arc have any physical manifestations?

Beyond its geometrical meaning, Arc can manifest as an electric discharge or as a trajectory.

#### Can an Arch be decorative?

Yes, while Arches can be structural, they can also serve decorative purposes in architecture.

#### How is Arch related to feet?

Arch can refer to the curved part of the foot between the heel and toes.

#### Are Arch and Arc interchangeable?

No, they have distinct meanings and cannot be used interchangeably.

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