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Idioms for arm
- to solicit or borrow money from: She put the arm on me for a generous contribution.
- to use force or violence on; use strong-arm tactics on: If they don't cooperate, put the arm on them.
Origin of arm1
OTHER WORDS FROM armarmed, adjectivearm·like, adjective
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH armalms arms
Words nearby arm
Definition for arms (2 of 2)
verb (used without object)
verb (used with object)
Origin of arm2
OTHER WORDS FROM armarm·less, adjective
ABOUT THIS WORD
What else does arms mean?
Arms, of course, are the upper limbs of the body. It’s also a term for weapons, especially guns (firearms).
Where does arms come from?
The word arm, as in the body part, is a very old word in English; it’s recorded in Old English and comes from Germanic roots. Arms as in “weapons,” comes from the Latin arma, “tools of war,” which passed into English from French in the 1200s.
In the Middle Ages, arms referred to various weapons (e.g., bows and arrows, catapults) and equipment of war, including defensive shields and armor. Today, arms for weaponry can sound a little dated, except for expressions like arms race, first used in the 1920s for the competitive buildup of weapons between nations (then nuclear arms race) and later extended as a metaphor for any competition.
Another common arms-related expression is to take (up) arms, “to prepare for a (literal or figurative) fight.” Shakespeare’s Hamlet used the phrase in the famous “To Be or Not To Be” soliloquy:
To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,|
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die, to sleep;
No more …
The opposite expression, and just as familiar, expression is to lay down arms, or “surrender” or “stop fighting.” This is also used in reference to actual or imaginary combat.
By the late 1600s, the word arms was narrowing to its current sense of firearms, such as pistols and rifles. These arms are at the center of the much debated language of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1791: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
A coat of arms was originally a type of outerwear that medieval knights wore in battle. They bore heraldic symbols representing who they were and who they were fighting for. Families and organizations later adopted these emblems as crests.
To be up in arms, which dates back to the late 16th century, means “ready to fight” and later, “very upset.”
How is arms used in real life?
On its own, arms for “weapons” sounds more formal, showing up in more historical texts and legal contexts. Expect to hear arms, though, in the discussion of gun rights in the U.S. surrounding the Second Amendment.
Also expect to hear arms in its related verbal form, to arm, “equip with a weapon,” (e.g., if a cop yells “He’s armed and dangerous!”). Armed, here, usually means carrying a gun.
More examples of arms:
“March on, march on, since we are up in arms;
If not to fight with foreign enemies,
Yet to beat down these rebels here at home.”
—William Shakespeare, Richard III, 1592–93
“China joins Russia in signaling it will veto any US resolution to extend arms embargo on Iran & resist snapback.”
—@farnazfassihi, May 2020
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
Example sentences from the Web for arms
There are parks filled with men pushing strollers and coffee shops where fathers meet their friends, babes in arms.
At the beginning of the video and before the call to kill police, you can hear what sounds like, “arms up, shoot back!”
Some of the slogans used that night—including “arms up, shoot back!”
With help, he got to his feet, and when she hugged him he lifted his arms slightly as if to return the hug.Alfred Hitchcock’s Fade to Black: The Great Director’s Final Days|David Freeman|December 13, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Democrats are up in arms about several policy riders attached to the cromnibus.Bachmann and Pelosi vs. Boehner and Obama Over Spending Bill|Ben Jacobs|December 11, 2014|DAILY BEAST
His arms were growing heavy with fatigue, his mouth was parched, and great beads of perspiration stood upon his brow.St. Martin's Summer|Rafael Sabatini
Throwing my arms fully around her, so as to include, if possible, the hail body in my ample embrace.Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Vol. XX|Alexander Leighton
Besides, his arms did not bear the slightest trace of a wound.The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar|Maurice Leblanc
You enter the mouth of a valley; the hills reach forth their arms to embrace you, and you consciously enter a new world.The Alps|Martin Conway
Can I in her arms conceive the possibility of parting from her?Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship and Travels, Vol. I (of 2)|Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
British Dictionary definitions for arms (1 of 4)
- to carry weapons
- to serve in the armed forces
- to have a coat of arms
- a position of salute in which the rifle is brought up to a position vertically in line with the body, muzzle uppermost and trigger guard to the fore
- the command for this drill
Word Origin for arms
British Dictionary definitions for arms (2 of 4)
- the corresponding limb of any other vertebrate
- an armlike appendage of some invertebrates
Derived forms of armarmless, adjectivearmlike, adjective
Word Origin for arm
British Dictionary definitions for arms (3 of 4)
- to activate (a fuse) so that it will explode at the required time
- to prepare (an explosive device) for use by introducing a fuse or detonator
Word Origin for arm
British Dictionary definitions for arms (4 of 4)
Medical definitions for arms
Idioms and Phrases with arms
In addition to the idioms beginning with arm
- arm and a leg
- armed to the teeth
- arm in arm
- at arm's length
- babe in arms
- forewarned is forearmed
- give one's eyeteeth (right arm)
- long arm of the law
- one-armed bandit
- put the arm on
- shot in the arm
- take up arms
- talk someone's arm off
- twist someone's arm
- up in arms
- with one arm tied behind
- with open arms