Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb \ˈrēch\

Simple Definition of reach

  • : to be able to touch, pick up, or grab (something) by moving or stretching

  • : to move or stretch (your hand, arm, etc.) when you are trying to touch or grab something

  • : to arrive at (a place that you have been traveling to)

Full Definition of reach

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to stretch out :  extend b :  thrust

  3. 2 a :  to touch or grasp by extending a part of the body (as a hand) or an object <couldn't reach the apple> b :  to pick up and draw toward one :  take c (1) :  to extend to <the shadow reached the wall> (2) :  to get up to or as far as :  come to <your letter reached me yesterday> <his voice reached the last rows> <they hoped to reach an agreement> d (1) :  encompass (2) :  to make an impression on (3) :  to communicate with

  4. 3 :  to hand over :  pass

  5. intransitive verb
  6. 1 a :  to make a stretch with or as if with one's hand b :  to strain after something

  7. 2 a :  project, extend <his land reaches to the river> b :  to arrive at or come to something <as far as the eye could reach>

  8. 3 :  to sail on a reach

reach·able play \ˈrē-chə-bəl\ adjective
reach·er noun

Examples of reach

  1. She couldn't reach the apple. She was too short.

  2. He couldn't reach the apple, even with a stick.

  3. She can't reach that far.

  4. We reached California after driving for two days.

  5. Their land reaches the river.

  6. Their land reaches to the river.

  7. The phone cord doesn't reach.

Origin of reach

Middle English rechen, from Old English rǣcan; akin to Old High German reichen to reach, Lithuanian raižytis to stretch oneself

First Known Use: before 12th century




Simple Definition of reach

  • : the distance that you can stretch your arm to touch, pick up, or grab something

  • : the ability or power of someone or something to do, achieve, or control something

  • reaches : the parts of an area that are a long way from the center

Full Definition of reach

  1. 1 :  a continuous stretch or expanse; especially :  a straight portion of a stream or river

  2. 2 a (1) :  the action or an act of reaching (2) :  an individual part of a progression or journey b (1) :  a reachable distance <within reach> (2) :  ability to reach <had a long reach> c :  an extent or range especially of knowledge or comprehension

  3. 3 :  a bearing shaft or coupling pole; especially :  the rod joining the hind axle to the forward bolster of a wagon

  4. 4 :  the tack sailed by a ship with the wind coming just forward of the beam or with the wind directly abeam or abaft the beam

  5. 5 :  echelon, level —usually used in plural <the upper reaches of academia>

Examples of reach

  1. The ball was just out of reach.

  2. Their goal is out of reach.

  3. The country's farthest reaches had not been explored.

  4. the upper reaches of the business

  5. the upper reaches of the river


First Known Use of reach


Other Vehicles Terms

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up reach? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 8, 2016

to clear from accusation or blame

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

pince-nez kittly-benders duvet spindrift
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.