For example in car racing, the non-straight parts of the track are almost always called corners, even though many of them are very far from the typical (point-like) corner of a rectangle.

Merriam-Webster gives the following relevant meaning of curve

a smooth, rounded line, shape, path, etc.

and the following meanings for corner

1) the point or area where two lines, edges, or sides of something meet

2) the place where two streets or roads meet

3) a curve in a road

This suggests that the two are in principle interchangeable, although I suppose that corner goes back to point-like intersections, whereas curve is more appropriate for extended intersections.

  • Maybe it is because at the speed racing cars travel at, those curves feel like corners. – Roaring Fish Oct 10 '14 at 15:58

This is not necessarily true. There are many courses/tracks where curve is used to describe these bends.

Suzuka map from Wikipedia

Suzuka in Japan has many corners which are called 'curves'.

Map of Silverstone from Ferrari

The most famous Formula 1 track of all, Silverstone, also has 'curves' (and 'corners').

Even in Italian for Monza, 'curva' is used:

Monza map from Wikipedia

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks a lot. In Silverstone, I see two curves, the rest is corners (I said preferred in the title, not exclusive). Monza does not really count, because I was asking about English (in German, we always use "Kurve"). However, I can't remember an incidence where the commentator (Sky, BBC) used curve instead of corner. Moreover, we use the expressions "take a corner", "cornering speed", etc. – painfulenglish Oct 9 '14 at 18:40
  • Colloquially, corner is probably used because "corner" sounds more extreme (it has connotations of sharpness like you mentioned in your original post). Imagine going at high speeds around a 90 degree corner, vs. a slow gentle curve. – AlannaRose Oct 15 '14 at 5:38
  • The name might have "curve" in it, but it is still a "corner". Suzuka's S-curves are corners 3 to 7. – AndyT Apr 16 '18 at 11:02

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