ache

verb
\ 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.

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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for ache

Synonyms: Verb

hurt, pain, smart

Synonyms: Noun

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Mr Trump lambasted the war for years, seemed momentarily energised by the prospect of succeeding where his predecessor failed, and now—aching for a foreign-policy win—may simply want the troops out before next year’s election. The Economist, "Trumped by the Taliban," 5 Sep. 2019 Three years on, his body still aches sometimes from the nerve damage caused by the bullet that struck the base of his spine then shot upward and ravaged his organs. Mary Schmich, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Three years after Tavon Tanner was shot, he and his twin sister find quiet among peaceful streets," 9 Aug. 2019 My heart ached for the Roskelleys and their friends. Nick Heil, Outside Online, "The Tragedy on Howse Peak," 28 Aug. 2019 Her work scratched the magic of that unnameable place that aches & buoys the soul. Globe Correspondent, BostonGlobe.com, "Tweets of the Week: Mourning Toni Morrison, #OperationCleanSweep, 30-50 feral hogs," 9 Aug. 2019 That’s largely because the younger labor force is shrinking, and few want to do such low-paying, back-aching work. Los Angeles Times, "Desperate for workers, aging Japan turns to robots for healthcare," 25 July 2019 My heart is aching from the human suffering being caused. Justin Rohrlich, Quartz, "ICE detainees are no longer getting condiments on their sandwiches," 20 June 2019 After a busy day of hiking, touring museums, or schlepping bags through the airport, a soothing bath can relieve aching muscles and reduce anxiety and stress. Necee Regis, BostonGlobe.com, "Here, there, and everywhere," 25 June 2019 His hips ached with every step, limiting his walk to a shuffle. Lisa Sanders, New York Times, "What Was the Cause of the Excruciating Pain in His Shoulders and Hips?," 5 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

According to health officials, approximately 1 in 5 people who are infected with the virus will develop symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Chicago Tribune Staff, chicagotribune.com, "DuPage County reports its first West Nile virus case of 2019. Lombard woman became ill in late August. State total is at 4.," 11 Sep. 2019 Those who do get sick may develop fever, headache, body aches, skin rash, vomiting or diarrhea two to 14 days after being bitten, officials said. Washington Post, "Teenager dies after shooting in Southeast," 11 Sep. 2019 Mumps typically begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite lasting a few days. Susan Scutti, CNN, "Hundreds of detained migrants have had mumps, CDC reports," 30 Aug. 2019 Virus initial symptoms can include fever, headache, nausea and vomiting, muscle aches, weakness and rash. Kieran Nicholson, The Denver Post, "Two first cases of human West Nile Virus in Weld County confirmed this season," 30 Aug. 2019 While standard flu symptoms involve fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue, more severe complications can include pneumonia; inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscles; and even organ failure, the CDC says. Patia Braithwaite, SELF, "Here Are All the Vaccines You Actually Need as an Adult," 26 Aug. 2019 There is no worshipping the porcelain gods or debilitating body aches. Mike Adams, chicagotribune.com, "Marijuana hangovers are real: What you need to know," 22 Aug. 2019 More typical signs of Borrelia miyamotoi disease are fever, chills, intense headache, muscle and joint aches, and fatigue, which can all set in within days to weeks after infection. Patia Braithwaite, SELF, "8 Tick-Borne Illnesses That Aren’t Lyme Disease," 26 July 2019 Chills, fever, sweats, fatigue, headache, vomiting, nausea, and body aches are all symptoms of malaria. Maggie O'neill, Health.com, "What Is Malaria, and Where Are You Most at Risk?," 23 July 2019

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.

See More

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."

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ache

Statistics for ache

Last Updated

19 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ache

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 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.

ache

noun

Kids Definition of ache (Entry 2 of 2)

: a dull continuous pain
\ ˈāk How to pronounce ache (audio) \
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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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

WORD OF THE DAY

miscellaneous remnants or debris

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!