\ ˈärch How to pronounce arch (audio) \

Definition of arch

 (Entry 1 of 9)

1 : a typically curved structural member spanning an opening and serving as a support (as for the wall or other weight above the opening)
2a : something resembling an arch in form or function especially : either of two vaulted portions of the bony structure of the foot that impart elasticity to it
b : something that has a curved shape like an arch There was a slight arch in her eyebrows. an arch in the cat's back


arched; arching; arches

Definition of arch (Entry 2 of 9)

transitive verb

1 : to cover or provide with an arch A bridge arches the stream.
2 : to form into an arch She arched her eyebrows.

intransitive verb

1 : to form an arch Trees arch above the promenade.
2 : to take an arch-shaped course The ball arched toward the basket.

Definition of arch (Entry 3 of 9)

1 : principal, chief your arch opponent/rival an arch enemy
b : marked by a deliberate and often forced playfulness, irony, or impudence known for her arch comments … decided to answer them by being teacherly in a sort of arch, Olympian way.— Gerald Early


abbreviation (1)

Definition of arch (Entry 4 of 9)


abbreviation (2)

Definition of Arch (Entry 5 of 9)


prefix (1)

Definition of arch- (Entry 6 of 9)

1 : chief : principal archfiend
2 : extreme : most fully embodying the qualities of the kind archconservative


prefix (2)

Definition of arch- (Entry 7 of 9)

— see archi-

Definition of -arch (Entry 8 of 9)

: ruler : leader matriarch

Definition of -arch (Entry 9 of 9)

: having (such) a point or (so many) points of origin endarch

Illustration of arch

Illustration of arch


arch 1: 1 round: imp impost, sp springer, v voussoir, k keystone, ext extrados, int intrados; 2 horseshoe; 3 lancet; 4 ogee; 5 trefoil; 6 basket-handle; 7 Tudor

In the meaning defined above

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Other Words from arch


archness noun

Did You Know?


As a prefix, arch- appears in a number of titles referring to positions of superiority, such as archduke and archbishop. Ultimately deriving (via Latin and French) from the Greek verb archein ("to begin, rule"), it can also mean "chief " (as in archnemesis) or "extreme" (as in archconservative). In the 17th century, as the "extreme" sense of arch came to be used frequently to describe rogues, knaves, and other clever and mischievous sorts, arch eventually settled into use as an adjective to describe one with impish or playful qualities. Use of the word has since extended to describe actions or remarks meant to be ironic, cutting, or condescending.

Examples of arch in a Sentence

Noun There was a slight arch to her eyebrows. an arch in the cat's back Verb The cat arched its back. She arched her eyebrows in surprise. A tree arches over the road. She arched backward to begin the exercise. Adjective a politician known for his arch humor The novel is never mocking or arch in its tone.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun These shoes are meticulously designed inside and out with great arch support hidden behind a smooth leather look. Simona Matovic, oregonlive, "Where to buy the best women’s commuter shoes | The 5 most comfortable and stylish options," 18 July 2019 In the living room, which opens on to a large terrace, de Just hand-painted the walls and arches himself. Samantha Swenson, ELLE Decor, "This is the Most Colorful Apartment You've Ever Seen," 5 June 2019 There’s no arch support, but the insoles of the shoes are quite comfortable. The Cut, "6 Women Review Everlane’s New Flats," 23 Apr. 2018 The Korean automaker said its new shape is intended to convey focused dynamic performance — even when the vehicle isn’t moving — thanks to a more muscular stance with higher-volume fenders and wheel arches for a more planted appearance. Sue Mead, Houston Chronicle, "Hyundai Veloster: Sporty compact curated with emotion, imagination," 13 Sep. 2019 The tire change also accounts for the wider wheel arch claddings, sticking out a bit from the side of the car to properly cover the wheels, as the regulators require. Alex Davies, WIRED, "Jaguar's New F-Pace SUV Is Fast, Sporty, and Expensive," 29 Mar. 2018 The Formula One-inspired front end has been extensively toned down, along with the massive side vents and rear wheel arches. Kevin Buckland,, "Fast, Furious, and Finally Here: The Road to the Reborn Supra," 7 Mar. 2018 Atlas has clean lines, buff wheel arches and proportional edges as if it were designed by a tailor; Traverse is more off the rack. Robert Duffer,, "2018 Volkswagen Atlas carries 3-row SUV class on its shoulders," 16 Jan. 2018 Middle-row passengers had a cupholder and bottle holder in each door, while third-row passengers had two cupholders in the tops of the wheel arches. G. Chambers Williams Iii, Detroit Free Press, "Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 Midnight Edition has menacing good looks, lots of extras," 4 Jan. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Dating to the 1920s, the classic two-story features a tiled foyer, arched doorways and high ceilings with thick beams. Los Angeles Times, "Hot Property: Weight loss guru Jenny Craig drops a few thousand square feet in Del Mar," 7 Sep. 2019 There are pink houses with brown-and-white checkerboard patterns arching over their doorways, red houses with white trimming their windows, orange houses with white imitation brick running up their sides. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "Engadin Has Some of the Most Delightfully Painted Homes in the World," 23 July 2019 If the timing is right, catch a natural fireworks show of lava pouring into the ocean or of plumes of molten rock arching above one of the planet’s rare lava lakes. National Geographic, "Everything to know about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park," 15 July 2019 Highlights of the two-story interior include terra-cotta tile floors, arched doorways and a wet-bar-equipped living room. Jack Flemming,, "‘Exorcist’ creator Jeremy Slater nabs a new haunt in the Hollywood Hills," 25 May 2018 Still, many people haven’t been inside to see its 68-foot-high arched, vaulted ceilings or its spiral staircases or the vast open rooms that encompass its considerable 43,560 square feet. Ray Mark Rinaldi, The Know, "Peek into a former sanatorium, French Gothic cathedral and more landmarks at Doors Open Denver," 15 Sep. 2019 It was doubled moments later, the latter arching his back to redirect the ball past a statuesque Edwin van der Sar., "Lionel Messi: His 32 Greatest Moments on His 32nd Birthday," 24 June 2019 As Connie McAllister mentions yoga, Kelly arches her arms up into a yoga pose and smiles. Karen Pilarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brookfield parents propose a residential facility for people living with disabilities, like their daughter," 6 Sep. 2019 Centrally positioned around 25 yards out, the Welshman arched a superb bending effort away from the despairing dive of City goalkeeper Ederson and into the top corner - sending the small but raucous Vitality crowd into delirium., "Harry Wilson Shows Liverpool What They Are Missing After Joining Elite Goalscoring Club," 26 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In a desert of controversially reviewed flats with arch support nowhere to be found, the Day Glove from Everlane is an oasis. Simona Matovic, oregonlive, "Where to buy the best women’s commuter shoes | The 5 most comfortable and stylish options," 18 July 2019 Bushnell’s style may be arch and breezy, but many of the characters deal with disappointment, heartbreak, and perhaps just as lethally, resignation. Ann Levin,, "Is there ‘Sex in the City’ for women in their 50s?," 6 Aug. 2019 In one tweet, the pop star, 26, threw back to her Hannah Montana days, sharing an image of herself and Selena Gomez — who appeared on the Disney show as Hannah’s arch-rival Mikayla — from an episode where the pair were dressed as bright blue aliens. Claudia Harmata,, "Miley Cyrus Kisses Fake Alien, Says She's Heading to Area 51 with Selena Gomez Amid Viral Joke," 16 July 2019 Education seems to be both your arch nemesis and … [laughs]. Tyler Joe, House Beautiful, "Multifunctional Homes, and the Multitasking Designers Who Create Them," 5 Aug. 2019 Dortmund will be delighted with the win, not only for picking up the first piece of silverware of the season but made even sweeter by defeating their arch rivals after such a humiliating collapse just a few months ago., "Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Bayern Munich: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Powerful BVB Prevail in Supercup," 3 Aug. 2019 Standing in its way this summer season was arch nemesis IIwII who has been a handful for Game Changerz during playoff time. Emmett Hall,, "Game Changerz swings way to Tamarac softball title," 25 July 2019 The ship shares a name with one of the president's arch political rivals, the Vietnam War POW turned longtime Republican senator who died last year. Jason Silverstein, CBS News, "Veterans will give out USS John McCain T-shirts at Trump's July 4th event," 2 July 2019 Los Blancos managed to convince their arch rivals from Catalonia to part ways with the Portuguese, paying €60m in 2000 to bring him to Madrid., "The 50 Most Expensive Real Madrid Signings Ever," 27 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'arch.' 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 arch


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1547, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for arch

Noun and Verb

Middle English arche, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *arca, from Latin arcus — more at arrow


arch- entry 1

Prefix (1)

Middle English arche-, arch-, from Old English & Anglo-French; Old English arce-, from Late Latin arch- & Latin archi-; Anglo-French arch-, from Late Latin arch- & Latin archi-, from Greek arch-, archi-, from archein to begin, rule; akin to Greek archē beginning, rule, archos ruler

Noun combining form

Middle English -arche, from Anglo-French & Late Latin & Latin; Anglo-French -arche, from Late Latin -archa, from Latin -arches, -archus, from Greek -archēs, -archos, from archein

Adjective combining form

probably from German, from Greek archē beginning

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Statistics for arch

Last Updated

4 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for arch

The first known use of arch was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for arch


How to pronounce -arch (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of arch

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: a usually curved part of a structure that is over an opening and that supports a wall or other weight above the opening
: the raised area on the bottom of the foot that is formed by a curved section of bones
: something that has a curved shape



English Language Learners Definition of arch (Entry 2 of 3)

: to bend into the shape of an arch

English Language Learners Definition of arch (Entry 3 of 3)

: having or showing an amused feeling of being superior to or knowing more than other people


\ ˈärch How to pronounce arch (audio) \

Kids Definition of arch

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a usually curved part of a structure that is over an opening and serves as a support (as for the wall above the opening)
2 : something that has a curved shape like an arch the arch of the foot

Other Words from arch

arched \ ˈärcht \ adjective an arched doorway


arched; arching

Kids Definition of arch (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : to form or shape into an arch : curve The cat arched her back.
2 : to cover with an arch Tree branches arched the narrow road.

Kids Definition of arch (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : chief entry 2 sense 2, principal an arch opponent
2 : being clever and mischievous an arch look

Other Words from arch

archly adverb


\ ˈärch How to pronounce arch (audio) \

Medical Definition of arch

1 : an anatomical structure that resembles an arch in form or function: as
a : either of two vaulted portions of the bony structure of the foot that impart elasticity to it:
(1) : a longitudinal arch supported posteriorly by the basal tuberosity of the calcaneus and anteriorly by the heads of the metatarsal bones
(2) : a transverse arch consisting of the metatarsals and first row of tarsals and resulting from elevation of the central anterior portion of the median longitudinal arch
2 : a fingerprint in which all the ridges run from side to side and make no backward turn

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More from Merriam-Webster on arch

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for arch

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with arch

Spanish Central: Translation of arch

Nglish: Translation of arch for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of arch for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about arch

Comments on arch

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


to engage in dissolute behavior

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