If you want to practice your archery, you'll need some arrows and a bow — a curved piece of wood (or other material), with a cord stretched between the ends that is used to launch the arrows.

The bow of a stringed instrument (like a violin or cello) was originally shaped like an archer's bow used in archery and thus shares the same name. When you move the bow across the strings, you're bowing. Sometimes violinists bow and sometimes they pluck the strings.

Definitions of bow
  1. noun
    something curved in shape
    synonyms: arc
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    an arc of colored light in the sky caused by refraction of the sun's rays by rain
    type of:
    curve, curved shape
    the trace of a point whose direction of motion changes
  2. noun
    a weapon for shooting arrows, composed of a curved piece of resilient wood with a taut cord to propel the arrow
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    a bow fixed transversely on a wooden stock grooved to direct the arrow (quarrel)
    Cupid's bow
    a curved bow with reversed curve ends
    a bow drawn by hand as distinguished from a crossbow
    a powerful wooden bow drawn by hand; usually 5-6 feet long; used in medieval England
    type of:
    arm, weapon, weapon system
    any instrument or instrumentality used in fighting or hunting
  3. noun
    a slightly curved piece of resilient wood with taut horsehair strands; used in playing certain stringed instruments
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    fiddlestick, violin bow
    a bow used in playing the violin
    type of:
    an implement consisting of a length of wood
  4. noun
    a stroke with a curved piece of wood with taut horsehair strands that is used in playing stringed instruments
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    a downward stroke from the heel to the tip of the bow
    an upward stroke from the tip to the heel of the bow
    type of:
    a single complete movement
  5. verb
    play on a string instrument with a bow
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    type of:
    play on an instrument
  6. noun
    a knot with two loops and loose ends; used to tie shoelaces
    synonyms: bowknot
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    type of:
    any of various fastenings formed by looping and tying a rope (or cord) upon itself or to another rope or to another object
  7. noun
    a decorative interlacing of ribbons
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    type of:
    decoration, ornament, ornamentation
    something used to beautify
  8. noun
    the act of bending the head, body, or knee as a sign of reverence or submission or shame or greeting
    synonyms: bowing, obeisance
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    genuflection, genuflexion
    the act of bending the knees in worship or reverence
    kotow, kowtow
    a former Chinese custom of touching the ground with the forehead as a sign of respect or submission
    scrape, scraping
    a deep bow with the foot drawn backwards (indicating excessive humility)
    a deep bow; a Muslim form of salutation
    type of:
    an act showing respect (especially a bow or curtsy)
    gesture, motion
    the use of movements (especially of the hands) to communicate familiar or prearranged signals
  9. noun
    an appearance by actors or performers at the end of the concert or play in order to acknowledge the applause of the audience
    synonyms: curtain call
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    type of:
    an acknowledgment of appreciation
  10. verb
    bend the head or the upper part of the body in a gesture of respect or greeting
    “He bowed before the King”
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    take a bow
    acknowledge applause by inclining the head, as of an artist after a performance
    curtsey, curtsy
    bend the knees in a gesture of respectful greeting
    genuflect, kowtow, scrape
    bend the knees and bow in a servile manner
    bend the knees and bow in church or before a religious superior or image
    type of:
    change posture
    undergo a change in bodily posture
  11. verb
    bend one's knee or body, or lower one's head
    “He bowed before the King”
    “She bowed her head in shame”
    synonyms: bow down
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    conge, congee
    perform a ceremonious bow
    type of:
    gesticulate, gesture, motion
    show, express, or direct through movement
  12. verb
    bend one's back forward from the waist on down
    “She bowed before the Queen”
    synonyms: bend, crouch, stoop
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    crouch down
    cower, huddle
    crouch or curl up
    type of:
    bend, flex
    form a curve
  13. verb
    yield to another's wish or opinion
    “The government bowed to the military pressure”
    synonyms: accede, defer, give in, submit
  14. noun
    front part of a vessel or aircraft
    “he pointed the bow of the boat toward the finish line”
    synonyms: fore, prow, stem
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    type of:
    the side that is seen or that goes first
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