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[kurv] /kɜrv/
a continuously bending line, without angles.
the act or extent of curving.
any curved outline, form, thing, or part.
a curved section of a road, path, hallway, etc.
Railroads. a curved section of track: in the U.S. the curve is often expressed as the central angle, measured in degrees, of a curved section of track subtended by a chord 100 feet (30 meters) long (degree of curve)
Also called curve ball, curveball. Baseball.
  1. a pitch delivered with a spin that causes the ball to veer from a normal straight path, away from the side from which it was thrown.
  2. the course of such a pitched ball.
a graphic representation of the variations effected in something by the influence of changing conditions; graph.
Mathematics. a collection of points whose coordinates are continuous functions of a single independent variable.
a misleading or deceptive trick; cheat; deception.
Education. a grading system based on the scale of performance of a group, so that those performing better, regardless of their actual knowledge of the subject, receive high grades:
The new English professor marks on a curve.
Compare absolute (def 10).
a curved guide used in drafting.
verb (used with object), curved, curving.
to bend in a curve; cause to take the course of a curve.
to grade on a curve.
Baseball. to pitch a curve to.
verb (used without object), curved, curving.
to bend in a curve; take the course of a curve.
having the shape of a curve; curved.
ahead of / behind the curve, at the forefront of (or lagging behind) recent developments, trends, etc.
throw (someone) a curve,
  1. to take (someone) by surprise, especially in a negative way.
  2. to mislead or deceive.
Origin of curve
1565-75; (< Middle French) < Latin curvus crooked, bent, curved
Related forms
[kur-vid-lee] /ˈkɜr vɪd li/ (Show IPA),
curvedness, noun
curveless, adjective
uncurved, adjective
uncurving, adjective
undercurve, noun
undercurve, verb (used without object), undercurved, undercurving.
well-curved, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for curve ball
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I want you to take a picture of my curve ball, answered Joe.

    Baseball Joe on the Giants Lester Chadwick
  • “I knew it would be a curve ball,” Devore told me after the game.

    Pitching in a Pinch Christy Mathewson
  • I met Dick Talbot this morning and he promised to come over and take a film of my curve ball in a day or two.

    Baseball Joe on the Giants Lester Chadwick
  • Lisud saw-un ang búla nga naglikuy, It is hard to catch a curve ball.

  • I pitched a curve ball that was meant for the outside corner, but cut the plate better than I intended.

    Pitching in a Pinch Christy Mathewson
British Dictionary definitions for curve ball

curve ball

(baseball) a ball pitched in a curving path so as to make it more difficult to hit
(informal) something deceptive: his wholesome image was a curve ball thrown to deceive the public


a continuously bending line that has no straight parts
something that curves or is curved, such as a bend in a road or the contour of a woman's body
the act or extent of curving; curvature
  1. a system of points whose coordinates satisfy a given equation; a locus of points
  2. the graph of a function with one independent variable
a line representing data, esp statistical data, on a graph: an unemployment curve
ahead of the curve, ahead of the times; ahead of schedule
behind the curve, behind the times; behind schedule
short for French curve
to take or cause to take the shape or path of a curve; bend
adjective sinuous
Derived Forms
curvedly (ˈkɜːvɪdlɪ) adverb
curvedness, noun
curvy, adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Latin curvāre to bend, from curvus crooked
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for curve ball



early 15c. (implied in curved), from Latin curvus "crooked, curved, bent," and curvare "to bend," both from PIE root *(s)ker- "to turn, bend" (see ring (n.)).


1690s, "curved line," from curve (v.). With reference to the female figure (usually plural, curves), from 1862; as a type of baseball pitch, from 1879.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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curve ball in Medicine

curve (kûrv)

  1. A line or surface that deviates from straightness in a smooth, continuous fashion.

  2. Something characterized by such a line or surface, especially a rounded line or contour of the human body.

  3. A curved line representing variations in data on a graph.

v. curved, curv·ing, curves
To move in or take the shape of a curve.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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curve ball in Science
  1. A line or surface that bends in a smooth, continuous way without sharp angles.

  2. The graph of a function on a coordinate plane. In this technical sense, straight lines, circles, and waves are all curves.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for curve ball

curve ball

noun phrase

Something tricky and unexpected; a sly maneuver: Barring another last-minute curve ball from Lorenzo, Ueberroth is expected to win the battle for Eastern Airlines (1940s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with curve ball


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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