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

Synonyms: Noun

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 The disease is characterized by excessive sneezing, reddening and running of the eyes, running of the nose, chills followed by fever of 101 to 103 degrees, aching back and joints, loss of appetite and a general feeling of disability. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, "In 1918, a deadly outbreak of influenza reached Anchorage. Here’s how Alaskans responded," 19 Apr. 2020 This felt deeply helpful; my fingers ached from taking notes. Lauren Groff, Harper's magazine, "Waiting for the End of the World," 1 Mar. 2020 At first, her malaise was nonspecific: intense fatigue, an aching back and a headache that wouldn’t respond to ibuprofen. Katherine Zoepf, New York Times, "‘I Could Have Died’: The Dangers of Postpartum Pre-eclampsia," 15 Apr. 2020 But still, in the middle of the night her breasts ached for the child. Lisa Taddeo, Harper's Magazine, "Padua, 1966," 30 Mar. 2020 Like hundreds of other Covid-19 patients flooding the city’s emergency rooms, the woman had a fever, cough, and aching muscles. Megan Molteni, Wired, "What Does Covid-19 Do to Your Brain?," 15 Apr. 2020 Our heart aches to lose you, but God gives us strength to carry on. courant.com, "Robert Meduna," 2 Oct. 2019 Brian McFarland had been aching to get out of the Multi-Service Center South homeless shelter for weeks. Kevin Fagan, SFChronicle.com, "In coronavirus landscape, moving homeless people into hotels is a puzzle," 20 Apr. 2020 That was the immune system attacking the virus, causing tissue to swell and ache, and causing infected cells to slough off. Dan Horn, Cincinnati.com, "A coronavirus story: How and why this tiny microbe makes you sick," 16 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Asma Mohammed felt an ache in her heart at not being able to participate in the nationwide protests against police brutality of black Americans last weekend. Demetria Mosley, Wired, "Can’t Go Out and Protest? Here’s How to Help From Home," 5 June 2020 It’s like a dull ache, a low-grade hum of uncertainty around the unknown. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, "I Went to a Drive-In Theater to Feel Normal. The Opposite Happened.," 5 June 2020 Mistakes in foraging can be as minor as a stomach ache or as serious as organ failure and death. Tim Macwelch, Outdoor Life, "10 Primitive Survival Skills that Will Keep You Alive," 26 May 2020 But many of the more than 1.7 million Americans who've contracted the disease are confronting puzzling, lingering symptoms, including aches, anxiety attacks, night sweats, rapid heartbeats, breathing problems and loss of smell or taste. USA Today, "Memory loss, gnarled fingers, panic attacks: COVID-19 didn't kill these Americans, but many might never be the same," 29 May 2020 Perri had muscle aches, headaches and a mild cough. Annie Vainshtein, SFChronicle.com, "A breath away from death: After weeks on a ventilator SF man walks away from ICU, and COVID-19," 20 May 2020 My friend and occasional co-author Charles Vavruska — a school-reform activist in Queens — suffered fever, aches, and fatigue for five days. Deroy Murdock, National Review, "Trump’s Critics Attack His Optimistic Case for Hydroxychloroquine," 7 Apr. 2020 Those symptoms include fever, cough, or shortness of breath, loss of the sense of taste or smell, body aches, chills, as well as gastrointestinal symptoms. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, "Grosse Ile's COVID-19 testing unlike any other in the state," 14 May 2020 On March 25, Dello Russo tested positive for COVID-19 after experiencing several common coronavirus symptoms including body aches, chills, a fever, and fatigue. Christina Oehler, Health.com, "This Couple Was Supposed to Get Married—but Instead They're Working in an ER to Fight COVID-19," 13 May 2020

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

Time Traveler for ache

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for ache

Last Updated

12 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ache.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ache. Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ache

ache

verb
How to pronounce ache (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ache

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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!