\ 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
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

Definition of arch (Entry 4 of 9)

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

Other Words from arch


archness noun

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Simply rising up and down on the ball of the foot works the outer leg, and forearm side planks strengthen the tendon under the arch as well as the leg muscles. Sarah L. Kaufman, Washington Post, 30 July 2022 Mohr chose an induction stovetop and behind it, under an arch that includes the hood, is a showstopping backsplash made with 12-inch-by-12-inch Alluro marble mosaic tile in Mini Castle Cream. Caron Golden, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 July 2022 The contoured footbed is designed to support your arch while providing cushioning to absorb impact, great for uneven terrain. Emma Seymour, Good Housekeeping, 19 July 2022 The world’s tallest arch (630 feet) on the western bank of the Mississippi River pays homage to St. Louis as the Gateway to the West. Fox News, 29 June 2022 The frame expands to the full midsole height under the arch, slowing the foot’s rotation and supporting it as needed. Jonathan Beverly, Outside Online, 27 June 2022 No-shows that hit below the back of the shoe can inch down until there is a veritable, and uncomfortable, mound of sock under the arch of your foot. New York Times, 3 June 2022 Under a proscenium arch in the foyer, a marble staircase is inlaid with colorful mosaics. E.b. Solomont, WSJ, 5 May 2022 After the teams passed under the burled arch, race officials checked for mandatory gear in the mushers’ sleds and dogs gnawed at congratulatory snacks — chicken breasts or frozen hunks of meat. Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News, 20 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Dragons arch over the entryway to the grounds where Danny Kim grapples with an oversize banner for Fresno Cambodian Nights. Los Angeles Times, 12 July 2022 Behind me the swells arch their backs and hiss, whitecaps forming on the crests. Outside Online, 18 June 2021 If your back begins to arch at any point, decrease the range of motion or do the exercise with your knees bent to 90 degrees. Hayden Carpenter, Outside Online, 20 May 2021 Unlike conventional sneakers, which typically flatten the foot pad, Kurusole cradles feet for unparalleled heel, ankle, and arch support. Katie Chang, Forbes, 8 June 2022 Plus, their cushioned footbed guarantees arch support as well as forefoot and rearfoot comfort. Emily Belfiore, Travel + Leisure, 18 Apr. 2022 Then drive your torso forward and arch your back; breathe deeply. Eric Leija, Men's Health, 6 May 2022 The clip begins with the Easter Bunny tiptoeing up the driveway with a basket in each hand before creeping up the stairs and entering Carey's home under a pink balloon arch around her front door. Abigail Adams,, 17 Apr. 2022 The Dream Pairs Low Block-Heel Sandal achieves its superior comfort thanks to a padded latex insole that gives your heel, arch, and toes extra cushioning to prevent fatigue and strain. Emily Belfiore, Travel + Leisure, 7 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The Trojans were picked by league coaches to finish third in the West, behind three-time defending division champion Louisiana and arch-rival South Alabama. Creg Stephenson |, al, 27 July 2022 Israel and Saudi Arabia are increasingly aligned in their opposition to Iran – an arch-rival and growing nuclear threat – among other hot-button global issues. Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY, 14 July 2022 Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have official diplomatic relations, but have shared clandestine security ties over a mutual enmity of regional arch-rival Iran. Emily Rose, ajc, 10 July 2022 Together, they'll be joined by The Good Place's Jameela Jamil as arch-rival Titania, as well as Ginger Gonzaga (Kidding, The Morning After) and Renee Elise Goldsberry (Girls5Eva, Hamilton). Lauren Puckett-pope, ELLE, 19 May 2022 The Republican primary pits incumbent Sen. Nathan Manning, a relative moderate, against Kirsten Hill, an arch-conservative state school board member. Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland, 21 July 2022 The tub features 29 stainless steel multilevel jets that can run continuously or automatically shut off after 15 minutes, as well as lumbar seating with arch support, plus a backlit multicolor LED waterfall. Rachel Klein, Popular Mechanics, 20 July 2022 Le Pen’s far-right platform, however, has created odd synergies with other parts of Europe, including Poland’s arch-conservative government, which has been fined by the E.U. for democratic backsliding. Washington Post, 19 Apr. 2022 Tilted about 30 degrees forward, this slippers offer additional arch support while giving your feet comforting pain relief. Jacqueline Saguin, Good Housekeeping, 14 June 2022 See More

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.

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

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Dictionary Entries Near arch

arc furnace



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Last Updated

4 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Arch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for arch


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on arch

Nglish: Translation of arch for Spanish Speakers

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


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