\ ˈāk How to pronounce ache (audio) \
ached; aching

Definition of ache

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to suffer a usually dull persistent pain an aching back
b : to become distressed or disturbed (as with anxiety or regret) aching with sadness
c : to feel compassion My heart aches for those poor people.
2 : to experience a painful eagerness or yearning He is aching to go.



Definition of ache (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a usually dull persistent pain had an ache in his back
2 : a condition marked by aching looked through the old pictures with a dull ache in her heart

Synonyms for ache

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of ache in a Sentence

Verb Her muscles were aching from shoveling snow. After running the marathon, his body ached for a week. The candy's so sweet that it makes my teeth ache. Noun He had a dull ache in his back from lifting boxes all day. a dull pounding ache in his head
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Hands, shoulders, and your back all start to ache as the hours tick by. Josh Patterson, Outside Online, 18 May 2020 Sit in any seat long enough and your backside will begin to ache. Beth Nichols, Car and Driver, 26 Jan. 2022 On April 21, 2020, Ogunnubi’s body began to ache, and she was sent home early from work. Duaa Eldeib, ProPublica, 28 Dec. 2021 My stomach would ache, my blood sugar would crash, and my teeth and gums even began to suffer. Jessica Jones, M.s., R.d., SELF, 7 Nov. 2021 About 30,000 runners have signed up to sweat, ache and push their legs to the limit. New York Times, 6 Nov. 2021 In this romantic Lakes District in the shadow of the Alps, wistful 19th-century villas are seductively overgrown with old vines that seem to ache with stories to tell. Rick Steves,, 21 Oct. 2021 How wonderful that games could give us this, the chance to visit places from our past and our future and to ache for them. Mike Mcclelland, Wired, 29 Sep. 2021 In court filings and interviews, dozens of prisoners complained that their decaying teeth were left to rot and ache. NBC News, 22 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The ineradicable ache of a mother’s loss comes through with devastating force, and so, too, does playwright Inda Craig-Galván’s anger at the conditions that allow such losses to keep happening., 19 May 2022 What many hear in the song is only the delicate ache of the music itself. Washington Post, 3 May 2022 Those who live far away from their mothers, or can’t be with them during the holiday, will be soothed by this Kacey Musgraves song about the ache of missing a parent. Samantha Lawyer, Country Living, 2 May 2022 Still, nothing could fully ease the damned ache in my shoulder blade. Aleta Burchyski, Outside Online, 4 Sep. 2020 Others aren’t sure how to tell the difference between the discomfort that inherently accompanies training and an ache that signal injury and requires medical attention. Keith And Kevin Hanson, Outside Online, 21 Feb. 2019 But once the album was out, Posner had an ache in his stomach. Caitlin Giddings, Outside Online, 4 Dec. 2019 All of us in New York City NYC ache for Ukrainians, applaud their indomitable spirit and defiance, and pray the brutality will soon be over. Margie Goldsmith, Forbes, 9 Apr. 2022 Kareem is by this point in the story old, by basketball standards, with joints that ache and hair that’s rapidly thinning; Magic is young and full of energy. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 4 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ache.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of ache


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ache


Middle English aken, going back to Old English acan, of uncertain origin

Note: Originally a Class VI strong verb, to judge by Middle English past tense forms such as eoc, ok, etc. (no preterit forms are attested in Old English). There is no counterpart to the verb in other Germanic languages, and words adduced as possible relatives (e.g., Middle Dutch akel "harm, injury, grief," Middle Low German ēken "to fester") are formally and semantically only vaguely comparable. Regarding the spelling see note at ache entry 2.


Middle English, going back to Old English æce, ece, noun derivative from the base of acan "to ache entry 1"

Note: The spelling with -ch-, reflecting the historical pronunciation of the noun, has spread to the verb, while the pronunciation of the verb with [k], continued from Old English, has spread to the noun since late Middle English. The persistence of the spelling with -ch- may have been influenced by Samuel Johnson's mistaken notion that the word derived from Greek áchos "pain, distress."

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The first known use of ache was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ache.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for ache


\ ˈāk How to pronounce ache (audio) \
ached; aching

Kids Definition of ache

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to suffer a dull continuous pain My muscles ached from shoveling snow.
2 : to desire very much : yearn She aches for someone to talk to.



Kids Definition of ache (Entry 2 of 2)

: a dull continuous pain


intransitive verb
\ ˈāk How to pronounce ache (audio) \
ached; aching

Medical Definition of ache

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: to suffer a usually dull persistent pain



Medical Definition of ache (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a usually dull persistent pain
2 : a condition marked by aching



Medical Definition of AChE (Entry 3 of 3)


More from Merriam-Webster on ache

Nglish: Translation of ache for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ache for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about ache


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