arch

1 of 9

noun

1
: a typically curved structural member spanning an opening and serving as a support (as for the wall or other weight above the opening)
2
a
: 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

Illustration of arch

Illustration of arch
  • 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

arch

2 of 9

verb

arched; arching; arches

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.

arch

3 of 9

adjective

1
: principal, chief
your arch opponent/rival
an arch enemy
2
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
archness noun

arch

4 of 9

abbreviation (1)

Arch

5 of 9

abbreviation (2)

arch-

6 of 9

prefix (1)

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

arch-

7 of 9

prefix (2)

see archi-

-arch

8 of 9

noun combining form

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

Did you know?

As a prefix, arch- appears in a number of titles referring to positions of superiority, such as archduke and archbishop; it can also mean "chief" (as in archnemesis) or "extreme" (archconservative). It comes from the Greek verb archein, meaning "to begin or to rule."

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
While Lawrence’s shoe of choice puts the ultra in ultra-minimalist, there are slightly more substantial takes (see: leather) for those who’d rather slip into something with a bit of…arch support? Laura Jackson, Vogue, 13 Feb. 2024 The Bean is one of the most photographed spots in the city and has a 12-foot arch with an underside that warps and multiplies reflections. Meena Thiruvengadam, Travel + Leisure, 5 Feb. 2024 The Essence used to prep the skin, the character-like models’ eyebrows were bleached, with pencil-thin arches drawn on top of hidden brows. Essence, 2 Feb. 2024 An arch with Chicago’s name printed in large Bratz purple font stood in the background. Angela Andaloro, Peoplemag, 26 Jan. 2024 These styles usually have a wide toe box area, a comfortable heel counter (a piece of more rigid material that maintains the shape of the shoe around the back of your foot and your Achilles tendon), and excellent support in the midsole to keep arches from collapsing. Kristine Thomason, SELF, 22 Jan. 2024 Later that night, Yang erased Ross’s brows and drew on Ball's signature high arches, then added a strip of lashes for a very different, but equally retro look befitting the iconic TV star. Flipped-out ends seem to be an emerging trend for 2024, and Ross's retro ponytail only solidifies that. Kara Nesvig, Allure, 16 Jan. 2024 Fancy arches and Middle Eastern screens called mashrabiya. Maria L. La Ganga, Idaho Statesman, 31 Jan. 2024 The plantar fascia, located on the bottom of the foot, is a thick band of connective tissue that runs from heel to toe and supports and stabilizes the arch of the foot. Anthony Chiang, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024
Verb
Red and purple lights brought a backdrop of arching tree silhouettes to life while the post-hardcore band dove through its catalog like 21 years had never passed. Pitchfork, 20 Dec. 2023 Plush with wayward harmonies and arching vocal lines, the music is dark, moody, and entrancing. Anthony Tommasini, The Atlantic, 27 Nov. 2023 With arching arms, the matte-black form evokes an embrace, fitting for a gift. Nina Molina, WSJ, 16 Nov. 2023 Both of their eyebrows were arched– signaling a high brow is in for the season. India Espy-Jones, Essence, 29 Jan. 2024 This will arch your low back and stretch the muscles in your chest and abdominal region. Scott Lafee, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Jan. 2024 Most modern skis boast a degree of camber, which arches up under foot to help make quick transitions and adds lots of playfulness and pop. Nathan Borchelt, Travel + Leisure, 30 Nov. 2023 Body Posturing: An alligator trying to assert dominance might arch its back and raise its head and tail above the water. Craig Caudill, Field & Stream, 30 Nov. 2023 The concept shown this week differs slightly from the concept demoed at Lenovo Tech World '16 in that it can be arched or bent into an upright position. Scharon Harding, Ars Technica, 25 Oct. 2023
Adjective
The pairing of a deep decoupled heel cup and arch support lock the alignment in place for more stability. Rachel Chang, Condé Nast Traveler, 14 Feb. 2024 This slipper, as well as the brand’s other shoes, are made with what the brand calls three-zone comfort, prioritizing stability, arch support, and cushioning. Alexandra Domrongchai, Travel + Leisure, 12 Feb. 2024 With a wooden sole, good arch support, and a cushioned footbed, clogs are designed to be functional and protective — all without compromising style. Nicol Natale, Peoplemag, 10 Feb. 2024 The Wrong Shoes Though there's plenty of variation here, knee pain resulting from wearing the wrong shoes often stems from a lack of arch support. Lauren Del Turco, Health, 6 Feb. 2024 The type of scores that supplement films by adding decadent strings to an already arch period piece or twangy guitars to a western. Vulture, 24 Jan. 2024 With a new Hellraiser reboot available to stream on Hulu, this is your chance to glory over the gloom, gore, and arch world-building of the original 1987 British horror film. EW.com, 19 Dec. 2023 Was writer-director Emerald Fennell’s aim true in her arch portrayal of the school and its scions? Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times, 29 Nov. 2023 Stop doing them barefoot, in socks, or in slippers with zero arch support; your definitely-closer-to-late-thirties-than-early-thirties knees will thank you. Rachel Wilkerson Miller, SELF, 1 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'arch.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

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

Adjective

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

First Known Use

Noun

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

Verb

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

Adjective

1547, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near arch

Cite this Entry

“Arch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/arch. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

arch

1 of 4 noun
1
: a usually curved part of a structure that is over an opening and serves as a support
2
: something resembling an arch in form or function
especially : either of two portions of the bony structure of the foot that give it flexibility
3

arch

2 of 4 verb
1
: to cover or provide with an arch
2
: to form into an arch
3
: to take an arch-shaped path

arch

3 of 4 adjective
1
: principal, chief
an arch opponent
2
: being clever and mischievous
an arch look
archly adverb
archness noun

arch-

4 of 4 prefix
: chief : principal
archenemy
Etymology

Noun

Middle English arche "arch," from early French arche (same meaning), derived from Latin arcus "bow (weapon)"

Adjective

from arch- (prefix)

Prefix

derived from Greek archein "to begin, rule"

Medical Definition

arch

noun
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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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