ache

verb
\ ˈāk \
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.

ache

noun

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

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Synonyms for ache

Synonyms: Verb

hurt, pain, smart

Synonyms: Noun

pain, pang, prick, shoot, smart, sting, stitch, throe, tingle, twinge

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

And for the last week the city has ached with the question of whether Lesandro, 15, could have been saved from the harrowing gang attack, which was captured on video and shared widely on social media. New York Times, "Bronx Mourns Teenager Killed in Vicious Attack," 27 June 2018 It’s full of charming, moving essays about food and wine, including, in the current issue, an aching account by importer Neal Rosenthal of finding and losing a beautiful wine in Hermitage. Esther Mobley, SFChronicle.com, "Introducing The Chronicle's new wine newsletter: Drinking with Esther," 7 June 2018 The soreness of every muscle aching because my uncontrollable shaking couldn’t be stopped. BostonGlobe.com, "Read the victim impact statement in the BU sexual assault case," 10 Apr. 2018 Their muscles ached, their lungs heaved, their bodies creaked and groaned. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Croatia Digs Deeper, Burying England’s World Cup Dreams," 12 July 2018 My heart aches for his family, for all the families. Dave Barry, miamiherald, "Dave Barry: Sorry, I'm not feeling funny today — my heart aches for slain journalists," 29 June 2018 His hips ached constantly, the legacy of a car accident Bench endured as a teenager. Jon Wertheim, SI.com, "Johnny Bench Is Already a Hall-of-Famer, But He's Looking For a New Distinction," 5 July 2018 My heart also aches, on this sad day, for the larger family of journalists, especially newspaper journalists. Dave Barry, miamiherald, "Dave Barry: Sorry, I'm not feeling funny today — my heart aches for slain journalists," 29 June 2018 Sure, many of us runners love decking ourselves out from head to toe in fancy gear, from stay-put sunglasses to a high-tech GPS watch to compression sleeves for aching shins. Sarah Klein, Health.com, "These Running Socks Have More Than 2,000 5-Star Reviews on Amazon—and I'm Obsessed," 27 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Within 12 to 72 hours after infection, fever, stomach aches and diarrhea begins. David J. Neal, miamiherald, "Recalled cereal in expanding salmonella outbreak illegally still being sold, FDA says," 12 July 2018 For a small percentage of people, symptoms such as muscle aches and fatigue can last for more than six months, even after treatment. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Reducing your risk of Lyme disease as the threat increases," 10 July 2018 Some people report that marijuana relieves aches and anxiety, possibly contributing to opioid abstinence. Rita Giordano, Philly.com, "Could marijuana help treat opioid addiction? Pennsylvania may soon find out," 6 July 2018 Those who do may experience headaches, nausea, vomiting and body aches that may pass after two or three days. Patricia Dillon, Houston Chronicle, "Montgomery County officials find 38 cases of mosquitoes with West Nile Virus; urge taking precautions," 6 July 2018 These selections, even the psychoactive ones, aren’t intended to knock you out, but instead, help combat stress and muscle aches. Van der Pop Forget Balm ($35 at vanderpop-us.myshopify.com). Olivia Hall, The Seattle Times, "Overstressed? 15 wellness trends to help you relax," 3 July 2018 Common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Jim Newton, Lake County News-Sun, "Highland Park area mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus," 3 July 2018 Symptoms usually begin two to 10 days after exposure and can include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and headaches. Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press, "Wayne State contractors diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease," 2 July 2018 Symptoms of ehrlichiosis include fever, nausea, headaches and chills, while Lyme disease symptoms usually involve fever, skin rashes, and body aches. Lucas Aulbach, The Courier-Journal, "Ticks are gross. And they're back in a big way this summer in Kentucky," 24 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of ache

Verb

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

Noun

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

History and Etymology for ache

Verb

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.

Noun

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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Statistics for ache

Last Updated

19 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ache

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

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More Definitions for ache

ache

verb

English Language Learners Definition of ache

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to produce a dull continuous pain : to hurt in a way that is constant but not severe

: to want or desire something or someone very much

ache

noun

English Language Learners Definition of ache (Entry 2 of 2)

: a pain that is not sharp but continues for a long time

ache

verb
\ ˈāk \
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.

ache

noun

Kids Definition of ache (Entry 2 of 2)

: a dull continuous pain

\ ˈāk \
ached; aching

Medical Definition of ache 

(Entry 1 of 3)

: to suffer a usually dull persistent pain

ache

noun

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)

acetylcholinesterase

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Comments on ache

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