Sense: 1, 3-4, 6-13
Origin: Old English earm
Sense: 2,5,14
Date: 1100-1200
Language: Old French
Origin: armes (plural), from Latin arma


1 noun
arm1 S1 W1 [countable]


one of the two long parts of your body between your shoulders and your hands:
Dave has a broken arm.
left/right arm
He had a tattoo on his left arm.
Tim's mother put her arms around him.
Pat was carrying a box under his arm.
He had a pile of books in his arms.
They walked along the beach arm in arm (=with their arms bent around each other's).
take somebody by the arm (=lead someone somewhere by holding their arm)
She took him by the arm and pushed him out of the door.
take somebody in your arms (=gently hold someone with your arms)
Gerry took Fiona in his arms and kissed her.
cross/fold your arms (=bend your arms so that they are resting on top of each other against your body)
He folded his arms and leaned back in his chair.
The old lady rushed to greet him, arms outstretched.



[plural] weapons used for fighting wars:
Sales of arms to the Middle East have dramatically increased.
The government is cutting arms expenditure.
The United Nations will lift its arms embargo against the country.
take up arms (against somebody) (=get weapons and fight)
Boys as young as 13 are taking up arms to defend the city.
He appealed for the rebels to lay down their arms (=stop fighting).
under arms (=with weapons and ready to fight)
All available forces are under arms.

➔ small arms

at small1 (15)


DHF the part of a chair, sofa etc that you rest your arms on


DCC the part of a piece of clothing that covers your arm [= sleeve]

be up in arms

to be very angry and ready to argue or fight:
Residents are up in arms about plans for a new road along the beach.

with open arms

if you do something with open arms, you show that you are happy to see someone or eager to accept an idea, plan etc:
We welcomed Henry's offer with open arms.
My new in-laws accepted me with open arms.

somebody would give their right arm to do something

used to say that someone would be willing to do anything to get or do something because they want it very much:
I'd give my right arm to be 21 again.

hold something at arm's length

to hold something away from your body

keep/hold somebody at arm's length

to avoid developing a relationship with someone:
Petra keeps all men at arm's length to avoid getting hurt.

as long as your arm

informal a list or written document that is as long as your arm is very long:
I've got a list of things to do as long as your arm.

part of group

a part of a large group that is responsible for a particular type of activity:
the political arm of a terrorist organization
Epson America is the US marketing arm of a Japanese company.


TD a long part of an object or piece of equipment:
the arm of a record player
There is a 15-foot arm supporting the antenna.

on somebody's arm

old-fashioned if a man has a woman on his arm, she is walking beside him holding his arm



[plural] a set of pictures or patterns, usually painted on a shield, that is used as the special sign of a family, town, university etc [= coat of arms]

➔ arms akimbo

at akimbo (1)

; ➔ babe in arms

at babe (1)

; ➔ brothers in arms

at brother1 (6)

; ➔ cost an arm and a leg

at cost2 (1)

; ➔ fold somebody/something in your arms

at fold1 (7)

; ➔ twist somebody's arm

at twist1 (9)

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