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

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 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

And the pictures of the Pearsons all grown-up (and together) will make your heart ache. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "'This Is Us' Characters Come Together for Rare, Multigenerational Photo at the Pearson Cabin," 27 Aug. 2018 The absence that follows penetrates again, then becomes a deep, familiar ache. Cate Mcquaid, BostonGlobe.com, "Liz Shepherd and Michelle Lougee make the mundane memorable," 27 June 2018 The mere thought of my next endless meeting makes my back ache. Clifton Leaf, Fortune, "Brainstorm Health: IBM Meetings Exercise Patent, AT&T-Time Warner's Effect, Drugs and Depression," 13 June 2018 There are a lot of variables, from using the right equipment to wearing the right gear, that will determine whether this experience will be a productive one, or just one that makes your butt ache. Emily Abbate, GQ, "Everything You Need to Know Before Buying a Bike for Fitness," 7 June 2018 Honestly, funnel cakes and corn dogs look like a belly ache to me. Alexandra Gekas, Woman's Day, "State Fair Vendor Sells Deep-Fried Butter… Yum or Yuck?!," 11 Aug. 2011 Vomiting, body aches, headache, fever, and other flu-like symptoms may also occur. Matthew Diebel, USA TODAY, "More than 200 hit by parasite from Del Monte vegetables; symptoms can include 'explosive' bowel movements," 9 July 2018 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 1 out of every 5 people infected with West Nile virus display symptoms which include headache, body ache, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and a rash. Elizabeth Myong, Houston Chronicle, "Tips on avoiding mosquitoes this summer," 20 June 2018 Symptoms include fever or chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and tiredness. Julie Washington, cleveland.com, "Flu season 2018 lasting longer than normal, strain B hitting now," 6 Apr. 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

14 Nov 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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