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

Plus, it can be used in the traditional ways as well: on sore muscles, aching backs, and cramps. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "People Are Obsessed With This $46 Heating Pad That’s Like a Sleeping Bag for Your Feet," 15 Oct. 2018 Low points on the trails (cactus run-ins, aching blisters, and lightning storms) combined with high points (accomplishment, intimate moments, and deep conversations) mirrored the ups and downs of their lives together. Alison Steinbach, azcentral, "Connecticut couple hikes into Grand Canyon to say 'I do'," 6 June 2018 Below are a few shots from other intrepid photographers on the PM.com staff across the country, from Oregon to South Carolina, as well as other great shots from around the internet that've been easing my aching FOMO. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Solar Eclipse Photos From Around the Internet," 21 Aug. 2017 Unlike normal ear buds that make my ears ache after a few hours, or foam ear plugs that always sneak out, these are locked in comfortably. James Lynch, Popular Mechanics, "The Strange Noise-Blocking Plugs That Custom-Fit Your Ears," 19 Oct. 2018 In words that seem to ache with emotion, or perhaps, more aptly, with the suppression of it, Mr. Zusak moves us in and out of time. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Five Brothers, Abandoned," 11 Oct. 2018 County officials have long ached for the redevelopment of Gwinnett Place Mall, which is largely empty after spending decades as the county’s crown jewel of retail. Tyler Estep, ajc, "Gwinnett Place: Apartment developer buys soon-to-close Sears store," 12 June 2018 Bissell is one of those teenagers who has learned to deal with the pain of running, trying to finish when the body is aching. Eric Sondheimer, latimes.com, "Loyola's Shane Bissell to play his part at Arcadia Invitational," 5 Apr. 2018 His bones ache from growing so fast and his lip is sprouting a cactuslike fuzz. Rachael Combe, The Cut, "The Moment I Decided to Throw Out My Son’s Toy Weapons," 8 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease usually begin two to 10 days after exposure and can include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and headaches, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, "Mich. Legionnaires' disease, Pontiac fever cases up amid warmer temps," 9 July 2018 Legionnaires’ disease is a lung infection with symptoms that include coughing, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and headaches. Sig Christenson, San Antonio Express-News, "BAMC confirms Legionnaires’ disease, finds bacteria source," 27 Feb. 2018 It is well known that muscle aches and weakness are prominent symptoms of influenza infection. Laura Haynes, Newsweek, "Here's How The Flu Attacks Your Body—And Why It's So Painful," 17 Feb. 2018 The liquid opioid quenches the craving to shoot heroin and staves off a withdrawal that brings on vomiting, sweating, muscle aches and uncontrollable shaking in what some describe as the worst flu ever. Jennifer Brown, The Seattle Times, "Methadone clinics in Colorado have doubled in 3 years," 4 Feb. 2018 West Nile is a mosquito-borne illness which typically causes headaches, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea, or a rash, among other side effects, though most people don’t experience any symptoms of the virus. Madeline Farber, Fox News, "West Nile virus cause of New Jersey man's death, health officials say," 21 Sep. 2018 Those emotional roller coaster rides, food cravings, and body aches are the result of hormonal changes the week or two before your period arrives, so don't let anyone tell you differently. Elizabeth Kiefer, Teen Vogue, "What Is A Period? 10 Things To Know About Your Menstrual Cycle," 6 Sep. 2018 The Nipah infection produces flulike symptoms, including fevers, body aches and vomiting, which often progress to acute respiratory syndrome and encephalitis, or brain inflammation. Emily Baumgaertner, New York Times, "Nipah Virus, Dangerous and Little Known, Spreads in India," 4 June 2018 This comes with symptoms including, yes, fever, as well as headaches, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and skin rash. Emma Sarran Webster, Allure, "What You Should Know About the Rise of Insect-Spread Diseases," 3 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

12 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on ache

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ache

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ache

Spanish Central: Translation of ache

Nglish: Translation of ache for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ache for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ache

Comments on ache

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