\ 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

Definition of arch (Entry 4 of 9)

Definition of Arch (Entry 5 of 9)

Definition of arch- (Entry 6 of 9)

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

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 The tall, topsy-turvy house, bent in an arch so that the roof digs into the forest floor, allows viewers to step inside and look through the glass windows above the distorted door. Christine Fernando, The Indianapolis Star, "After 15 years in the elements, Twisted House needs major restoring. Here's how to help.," 2 Sep. 2020 Mr Dyck is admired in FRELIMO circles for leading an assault in Zimbabwe on the party’s arch-enemy, RENAMO, in 1985. The Economist, "More misery, few answers The conflict in Mozambique is getting worse," 26 Aug. 2020 Maintain vertical alignment of shoulders, rib cage and hips over your knees without letting your back arch. Dana Santas, CNN, "Biking your way to better health: How to reboot your workout routine," 17 Aug. 2020 Umbrella Academy newbie Ritu Arya asked with a conspiratorial arch to her voice during a recent phone call with Refinery29. Ariana Romero,, "You Love Lila. We Love Lila. Ritu Arya Explains Umbrella Academy’s Best New Character," 2 Aug. 2020 Eyeliner is often used to elongate the outer and inner corners of the eyes, while concealer can minimize the eyebrow's arch to create a straight-brow look. Jenna Ryu, USA TODAY, "Is the fox-eye makeup trend racially insensitive? Here's what Asian cosmetic experts had to say," 20 Aug. 2020 There's Magic In The Air Barrel vaults require a new build, reconstruction, or tearing down Sheetrock in an older home and hoping there’s an arch hiding underneath. Kaitlin Menza, House Beautiful, "This Monochromatic Houston Home Has Sky-High Architectural Ambitions," 14 Aug. 2020 The brick building offered a grand architectural gesture in the form of a shallow elliptical arch that stretched across the second story. Larry Millett, Star Tribune, "Twin Cities car showrooms in early 20th century were as showy as the vehicles they sold," 8 Aug. 2020 Divided into four districts with varied terrain and miles of hiking paths, the must-take path is Natural Arch Loop Trail #510 to a storybook-looking natural arch surrounded by dense trees that display vibrant foliage every fall. Maya Kachroo-levine, Travel + Leisure, "The Best Hikes in Every State," 7 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb One of the trilithons (arch-like structures made of two upright stones supporting a horizontal lintel stone) in the central horseshoe fell down in 1797. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Archaeologists find the source of Stonehenge sarsen stones," 30 July 2020 This puts you in a position where the tightened, shortened muscles pull your pelvis forward, causing your lower back to hyperextend, or arch, Yuen explains. Amy Marturana Winderl, SELF, "6 Butt Stretches That Will Seriously Loosen Up Your Tight, Sore Tush," 13 July 2020 Among the standout features: a car elevator and basement garage that can accommodate up to 12 vehicles, and a wine cellar arch that holds 2,000 bottles. Faris Mokhtar,, "Singapore Bungalow for $45 Million. Rare Artifacts Are Extra," 23 June 2020 Sneakers are touted as the epitome of comfort thanks to features like cushioning, stabilizing soles, and arch support. Braelyn Wood,, "Skechers’ On-The-Go Sandals Are a Favorite of Teachers, Tourists, and Plantar Fasciitis Sufferers," 22 June 2020 Tall trees arch over to shade some roads, and occasionally chickens cross the road. Carolyn Lindell, USA TODAY, "Mural, mural, on the wall: Texas small towns showcase daytrip-worthy paintings," 20 June 2020 Tilt your pelvis so that your low back is not arching and your naval is pulling in towards your spine. Stephanie Mansour, NBC News, "A 5-minute ab workout to tone your midsection," 14 Mar. 2020 Without arching back, squeeze right glute and lift right leg up toward the ceiling. Mallory Creveling,, "The 5-Move Resistance Band Workout for a Strong Butt," 16 Dec. 2019 In this position, your ribs naturally want to flare out and your back naturally wants to arch, Mansour explains, which would be incorrect form and would potentially place undue stress on your lower back. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "Naomi Campbell Trains While She Travels With This One Versatile Core Move," 23 Nov. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Virgin’s arch-rival British Airways Plc is expected to emerge from the crisis stronger than most competitors after taking a tough line on jobs. Fabian Graber,, "Virgin Atlantic’s $1.6 Billion Rescue Approved by U.K. Court," 1 Sep. 2020 With arch-rival Real Madrid clinching La Liga, Barca ended the season without silverware for the first time since 2007/08, hastening the departure of coach Quique Setien, with former player Koeman installed. Paul Gittings, CNN, "Lionel Messi skips medical as La Liga sides with Barcelona over contract dispute," 30 Aug. 2020 Under Ailes, these staffers told Stelter, there was at least some leadership, a clear vision and some journalistic standards — even if those standards were aimed squarely at maximizing ratings and pursuing an arch-conservative agenda. Washington Post, "Trump is ‘Fox’s Frankenstein,’ insiders told CNN’s Brian Stelter — and here’s the toll it’s taken," 23 Aug. 2020 State also plays at Alabama and Georgia, as well as arch-rival Ole Miss. Creg Stephenson |, al, "Ranking the 2020 SEC football schedules, from most- to least-difficult," 18 Aug. 2020 Some deconstructionists saw Archie Bunker, the conservative crank from All in the Family, as an arch debunker: a standing exposé of the folkways of white men. Virginia Heffernan, Wired, "What French Feminism Can Teach Us About Karens," 18 Aug. 2020 With arch-rival Real Madrid pulling away after the restart to win La Liga, the Champions League represents the last chance of silverware for the Catalan giants this season amid further rumors about Messi's future if the campaign ends in failure. Paul Gittings, CNN, "Champions League: Inspired Lionel Messi lifts Barcelona into quarterfinals," 8 Aug. 2020 The Gift 2 sandal is lightweight and padded with a premium footbed with arch support. Liv Birdsall, USA TODAY, "15 great pairs of shoes to buy from Taos Footwear," 5 Aug. 2020 After all, the right boot, and the right fit, could mean the difference between a life-affirming experience and a seemingly never-ending day plagued by arch sores and heel blisters. Lindsey Olander, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Men’s Hiking Boots for Summer Adventures," 1 July 2020

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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Time Traveler for arch

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for arch

Last Updated

8 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Arch.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2020.

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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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