Des Arc was laid out in 1871. According to folk etymology, Des Arc, meaning "the bend", was so named from a big bend in the railroad at the town site. However, the State Historical Society of Missouri believes the name may be a corrupton of aux arcs, the origin of the name Ozarks. A post office called Des Arc has been in operation since 1871.
Des Arc is located at 37°17′03″N 90°38′06″W.