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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
In our opinion, the compression level of these socks feels like a firm hug around our calves, heels, and the arches and tops of our feet. Laura Lu, Ms, Parents, 21 May 2024 To do just that, plan on hiking the 20-mile loop Perimeter Trail, and make sure to get a photo of Sewanee Natural Bridge, a 25-foot-high natural sandstone arch. Lydia Mansel, Travel + Leisure, 21 May 2024 Wear non-skid, cushioned shoes that support the arches of your feet. Rozalynn S. Frazier, Health, 19 May 2024 Their wide toe box allows for more room, and their insoles have a slight arch for extra support. Isabel Garcia, Peoplemag, 19 May 2024 Visitors to the Palais have their bags searched and must pass individually through a metal detector arch, leading to long lines. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 18 May 2024 Our eyes keep going back and forth between her arches and her warm glowy blush. Annie Blay, Allure, 6 May 2024 Her brows were either hidden or bleached entirely, then drawn on in skinny, pencil-thin arches above a gradient red eye, with color diffused all the way up to the brows. Kara Nesvig, Allure, 6 May 2024 The bedroom’s Fortuny fabric reappeared in his interior for the Four Seasons restaurant in New York, completed in 1958, and the canopy’s arches were the seed of his classicist infatuation, which culminated at the Beck House, an opulent private home in Dallas finished in 1964. Suleman Anaya, New York Times, 3 May 2024
Verb
The blooms may need to be staked to keep arching flowers off the ground. Steve Bender, Southern Living, 22 May 2024 The arching canopy of a crepe myrtle looks perfect for shading a white concrete pool deck. Steve Bender, Southern Living, 10 May 2024 The dark corridor is made up of arching trees, giving just enough room for the train to run through. Stacey Leasca, Travel + Leisure, 1 May 2024 But her smile is still expressive and kind, her wispy eyebrows often arching to emphasize certain points, to make the listener laugh and win them over. Saskia Solomon, New York Times, 25 Apr. 2024 Video village was next to a bridge, which arched over a murky river. Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker, 8 Apr. 2024 The aquarium that arches over a central pathway is filled with 16,000 gallons of saltwater. Angela Palermo, Idaho Statesman, 29 Mar. 2024 The kite shot straight up, arched to the left and danced in the sky. Jenna Portnoy, Washington Post, 30 Mar. 2024 Corbett then sliced through two defenders, met two more at the rim and somehow pulled both arms back with his upper body arched to avoid contact and got off a two-handed shot. Darren Sabedra, The Mercury News, 1 Mar. 2024
Adjective
Thompson seemingly had an answer for every Century defender thrown at him, finishing with a game-high 25 points, determined to come home with the second win of the season over his school’s arch rival. Timothy Dashiell, Baltimore Sun, 24 May 2024 Plus, they’re designed with arch support, a breathable lining, and foam cushioning for all-day comfort. Jamie Allison Sanders, Peoplemag, 24 May 2024 The six-piece set includes a square, half moon, arch, cylinder, triangle, and foldable circle and is available in several colorful packs. Heather Balogh Rochfort, Parents, 18 May 2024 Molloy began the series as an arch commentator who punctured the vampires’ self-importance, and still plays that part in Season 2. Alison Herman, Variety, 12 May 2024 Shoppers noted that in addition to keeping their feet cool, the insoles also offered great arch support, which was beneficial both on long walks and hikes. Rachel Trujillo, Travel + Leisure, 11 May 2024 There may be one winner for each participating market (there's more than 75), and once selected, each winner will receive their own personalized arch support system. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, 5 May 2024 Their romance is like watching a Labrador puppy fall in love with a pampered Persian cat, all eager impulse on one side and arch contrariness on the other. Olivia Waite, New York Times, 24 Apr. 2024 The prospect of a war with Israel, after a series of tit-for-tat retaliation between the arch foes, has alarmed many ordinary Iranians already facing an array of problems, ranging from economic misery to tightening social and political controls after the nationwide unrest in 2022-23. Parisa Hafezi, The Christian Science Monitor, 23 Apr. 2024

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

-arch

arch

Arch

Cite this Entry

“Arch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/arch. Accessed 27 May. 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

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