\ ˈärch \

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
3 : archway


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


There was a slight arch to her eyebrows. an arch in the cat's back


The cat arched its back. She arched her eyebrows in surprise. A tree arches over the road. She arched backward to begin the exercise.


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

The 202 did away with fender arches and upright radiators, integrating the fenders into the bodywork with one continuous, flowing shape. Blake Z. Rong, Popular Mechanics, "10 Innovations That Made the Modern Car," 4 Dec. 2018 And why an arch, which suggests the pioneers somehow passed through a giant croquet wicket? Philip Kennicott, kansascity, "St. Louis’ Gateway Arch emerges with new name, skeptical view of western expansion," 3 July 2018 But this pen won't give you Instagram brows; the point is to create natural, full arches that don't have to be traced into place. Samantha Sasso,, "Maybelline Finally Launched This Beloved Product Stateside — & It's So Good," 23 May 2018 As Allure reported, commenters have taken to Serena's post to criticize the tennis champion's arches, which appear to be makeup-free. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Serena Williams Responds to Eyebrow Shaming Comments on Instagram," 4 May 2018 Everything off the ground at this point, the arch, rotation, etc. John Johnson,, "DiPietro is back to high-flying ways at Michigan State," 27 Apr. 2018 In someone with low arches, the curves between the balls and heels of their feet are closer to the ground. Nina Bahadur, SELF, "8 Shoe Mistakes That Could Definitely Be Causing Your Foot Pain," 18 Apr. 2018 In a paper published in PLOS One, researchers write that the footprints are remarkably well preserved; some even have visible arch, toe and heel marks. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Oldest Known Human Footprints Discovered on Canada’s Pacific Coast," 30 Mar. 2018 That prompted chuckles that rang from the vaulted arches inside the Washington National Cathedral. Deb Riechmann, The Seattle Times, "Memories of Bush humor brought smiles to sorrowful farewell," 5 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Wooden doors accent the light stucco exterior walls and are sometimes arched, mimicked by arched doorways inside the homes. Maggie Burch, House Beautiful, "What Is Spanish Colonial Design? Everything To Know About California's Popular Style," 13 Nov. 2018 For hours starting at 7 A.M., a sea of pink bobbing heads of all genders and ages, arching arms, and flutter kicks can be seen moving like a school of fish, stride by stride, across waves and around rocks and jagged bends. Kate Branch, Vogue, "How Taking Up Swimming Helped One Stressed New Yorker Learn to Manage Her Anxiety," 31 Aug. 2018 These measurements of the slithering, arching, intertwining magnetic fields of the sun could help solve the solar mysteries that have plagued particle physicists for decades. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "The New Science of the Sun Will Be Astounding—And Possibly Terrifying," 9 Aug. 2018 In this positioning, your shoulders should be directly above your hips and your chest should be upright (a slight forward lean is OK, as long as your back is flat and not arched or rounded forward). Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "All You Need Is a Pair of Socks to Do This 15-Minute Total-Body Workout From Carrie Underwood’s Trainer," 13 Dec. 2018 And like Zhang, Cao makes botanical paintings — eloquent renderings of red lotus blossoms on long, arching stems. Cate Mcquaid,, "Cao Jun: the dance and the chance of it," 28 Mar. 2018 The vault’s actual shape was created with a special rhinoVAULT plug-in that allows the library’s arched shape to rely on pure compression. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "You can walk on the roof of this sloping brick library in India," 21 Sep. 2018 As your body works to support the weight of your arms and legs, your back naturally wants to arch to alleviate the tension. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "Why Doing a Hollow Body Hold Like Blake Lively’s Trainer Is So Challenging—Plus, How to Work Up to It," 30 Oct. 2018 Shelvey bent an arching corner into the penalty area, finding Florian Lejeune whose bullet pass across the six yard boss was hammered home by Perez., "Newcastle Soars to Win as Blundering Chelsea Misses Out on Champions League," 13 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

And could Kingpin be making a reprise as Matt's arch nemesis? Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Matt Murdock is back and darker than ever in new trailer for Daredevil season 3," 21 Sep. 2018 Last night literally standing in front of the White House, leading a sing-along protest against her arch nemesis. Fox News, "Sekulow: Trump will decide whether he sits down with Mueller," 8 Aug. 2018 Meanwhile, Tiffany Trump, daughter of Clinton's arch nemesis Donald Trump, was also seen chilling: No word as to whether Trump and Clinton exchanged conversation, but oh, to be a fly on the wall... Video Player is loading. Mehera Bonner, Marie Claire, "So...Hillary Clinton, Jennifer Lopez, and Tiffany Trump Were at the Same Wedding This Weekend," 7 Aug. 2017 Palace did earn promotion, and the loan signing of Dobbie was made all the more sweeter given the fact that he was borrowed from arch rivals Brighton., "Emergency Reinforcements: 8 of the Best Loanees in Crystal Palace's Recent Premier League History," 10 May 2018 Real Madrid may have dominated the European stage last season, but domestically arch rivals Barcelona cantered to the La Liga title., "Toni Kroos Ends Manchester United Transfer Speculation by Reiterating Contract Promise," 2 July 2018 Sanuk actually uses yoga mats for the footbeds and adds a bit of arch support for structure. Graham Averill, Outside Online, "5 Men's Flip-Flops That Are Perfect for Summer," 2 July 2018 What's on Musk's mind is usually only a check of Twitter away, where he is known for missives that range from arch to tart when Tesla's stumbles are raised. Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, "Elon Musk and Tesla pull few punches defending pioneering car company, even after accidents," 30 Apr. 2018 The duo now manage arch enemies Manchester City and Manchester United, though their personal rivalry has transformed into mutual respect following a turbulent spell together in Spain a few years back., "From Foes to Friends: 7 Rivals Who Put Their Differences Aside," 1 Apr. 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near arch



arc furnace





Statistics for arch

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for arch

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

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More Definitions for arch



English Language Learners Definition of arch

 (Entry 1 of 4)

: 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 4)

: to bend into the shape of an arch



English Language Learners Definition of arch (Entry 3 of 4)

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



English Language Learners Definition of arch- (Entry 4 of 4)

: main or chief

: extreme


\ ˈärch \

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 \

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with arch

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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

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someone who never drinks alcohol

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