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Arc vs. Bow: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on January 2, 2024
An arc is a curved line or shape, often part of a circle, while a bow refers to either a weapon for shooting arrows or the front part of a ship, or a gesture of bending forward.

Key Differences

An arc is a part of the circumference of a circle or other curve. A bow, when not referring to a weapon or ship part, is a bending forward at the waist, often as a sign of respect.
In geometry, an arc is specifically defined by its curvature and the angle it subtends. In contrast, a bow as a weapon is a tool for shooting arrows, crafted to store and release energy.
In architecture and engineering, arcs are used for their structural and aesthetic qualities. The bow of a ship, however, refers to the front section, crucial for its design and function.
The term 'arc' can also describe a narrative or storyline in literature or film. A bow, alternatively, can refer to an accessory made of ribbon or cloth, often used for decoration or as a fashion item.
In physics, an arc can refer to an electric current passing through the air. Meanwhile, the bow is also a gesture or posture in dance and social interaction, symbolizing deference or greeting.

Comparison Chart

Basic Definition

A curved line, often part of a circle
A weapon for shooting arrows or the front of a ship

In Geometry

Defined by curvature and subtended angle
Not applicable

Use in Different Fields

Architecture, storytelling, physics
Weaponry, shipbuilding, social gesture, fashion accessory

Symbolic Meaning

Can represent a journey or progress
Symbolizes respect, greeting, or decoration

Physical Representation

Part of a circle or curve
Bending at the waist or a tied ribbon

Arc and Bow Definitions


A storyline or plotline in literature or film.
The character's arc showed significant development over the series.


A gesture of bending the body or head as a sign of respect.
The performer took a bow at the end of the show.


An electric current that travels through the air between two conductors.
The scientist observed the arc of electricity between the electrodes.


The front part of a ship.
The captain stood at the bow, watching the waves.


In mathematics, a continuous portion of a circle's circumference.
The geometry problem involved calculating the length of the arc.


A weapon used to shoot arrows, consisting of a piece of curved wood.
He skillfully drew his bow and aimed at the target.


A curved line or segment of a circle.
The rainbow formed a perfect arc in the sky.


In music, a stick with horsehair used to play string instruments.
The violinist's bow glided across the strings, creating a beautiful melody.


A trajectory path, like that of a thrown ball.
The soccer ball followed a high arc before landing.


A knot made of ribbon or cloth, often used for decoration.
She wore a dress with a large bow on the back.


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


The front section of a ship or boat.


Can an arc be a complete circle?

No, an arc is only a part of a circle's circumference.

Can an arc exist in three dimensions?

Yes, in three dimensions, an arc can be part of a spherical surface.

What materials are bows made from?

Traditionally, wood, but modern bows can also be made from fiberglass or carbon fiber.

Does the bow of a ship have a specific function?

Yes, its design affects the ship's handling and stability in water.

Is a bow always used as a weapon?

No, it can also refer to the front of a ship, a gesture, or a decorative item.

How is an arc used in storytelling?

It describes the development of a plot or character over time.

What is a narrative arc?

It's the chronological construction of plot in a novel or story.

Are bows used in all cultures?

Bows as weapons have been used in many, but not all, cultures throughout history.

Is the bow gesture the same in all cultures?

No, the significance and style of the bow can vary between cultures.

What is an electric arc used for?

It's used in welding and lighting, like in arc lamps.

What does the term "parabolic arc" mean?

It refers to the curved trajectory of an object under the influence of gravity.

What is "arc welding"?

It's a process of joining metals using the heat generated by an electric arc.

How does an arc relate to angles in geometry?

The length of an arc is related to the angle it subtends at the circle's center.

How do you maintain a bow for archery?

Regular inspection, proper stringing, and storing in a safe place are important.

How did bows evolve historically?

They evolved from simple wooden designs to complex compound bows with pulleys.

Is it possible to have an arc in electrical circuits?

Yes, electrical arcs can occur in circuits, often as a fault condition.

What's the difference between a bow and a curtsy?

A bow is typically a bending forward from the waist, while a curtsy is a gesture where one leg is tucked behind the other.

Do all string instruments use a bow?

No, some like guitars and ukuleles are typically plucked or strummed.

Can a bow be an instrument accessory?

Yes, in music, it's used to play string instruments like violins.

Can arcs be used in logo design?

Yes, arcs are often used in logos to convey movement or continuity.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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