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

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

Example Sentences

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
But potential complications, including flattening of the arch of the foot, make surgery something to consider only after giving other therapies a good chance. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 24 Aug. 2022 The peak of the arch, then, represents the cloud’s true altitude above the Martian surface. Wired, 3 Aug. 2022 Network is an engineering term referring to the cables that are crossed from the top of the arch to the bottom of the driving surface on both sides of the structure, and the design eliminates the need for a center pier. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, 20 July 2022 So, so for the native Clevelanders, what is the significance of that arch? Laura Johnston, cleveland, 13 June 2022 The top of the arch features President Grant’s words written in the Yellowstone Protection Act. Fox News, 21 May 2022 The free concerts will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., with free carousel rides preceding the music from 5 to 6:30 p.m. as well as free tours of the arch. Ted Glanzer, Hartford Courant, 19 May 2022 Or continue up a steep natural-rock stairway to the top of the arch. Roger Naylor, The Arizona Republic, 5 Apr. 2022 Indeed, the kind of arch, knowing performance of exaggerated femininity that the Angels were created to embody has neither ascended to the heavens or been consigned to hell, depending on your point of view. New York Times, 21 June 2021
Verb
The single-strap style has all the benefits of the iconic Arizona sandal (a moldable cork footbed and arch support for long-lasting comfort) but with a simplified design, which celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow and Sarah Jessica Parker favor. Claire Harmeyer, Peoplemag, 27 Oct. 2022 These boots have the holy trinity of a reliable winter pick: arch support, waterproof, and moisture-wicking capabilities. Daisy Maldonado, SELF, 27 Oct. 2022 Here, Cobra plants (Darlingtonia californica) arch over smaller Venus flytraps and pitcher plants. Sunset Magazine, 27 Oct. 2022 Another element of foot shape—arch height—has less to do with running ability or shoe selection than often believed. Susan Lacke, Outside Online, 29 Apr. 2019 At one point, the dancers raise both arms, arch back and point a finger to the audience and then up in the air, echoing a similar, early gesture of Royal’s. Gia Kourlas, New York Times, 28 Oct. 2022 Squeeze your shoulder blades and arch your back slowly. Men's Health, 5 Oct. 2022 This kit comes with 121 balloons — a mix of black, orange and eyeball balloons — which is more than enough to build a statement-making Halloween balloon arch. Larry Stansbury, Good Housekeeping, 28 Sep. 2022 With a reboot of Hellraiser on its way to Hulu, this is your chance to glory over the gloom, gore, and arch world-building of the original 1987 film. Johnny Loftus, EW.com, 24 Sep. 2022
Adjective
To beat your arch rival and keep John Elway, one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, out of a bowl game? Ron Kroichick, San Francisco Chronicle, 17 Nov. 2022 Where Mercedes-Benz goes, so goes arch-rival BMW—and vice-versa. Drew Dorian, Car and Driver, 8 Nov. 2022 The music streaming giant’s share price has gotten a nice boost from a price hike announced by arch-rival Apple on Monday for its own music streaming services. Dan Gallagher, WSJ, 25 Oct. 2022 Harvard’s performance was a bit worse than arch rival Yale University’s. Larry Edelman, BostonGlobe.com, 13 Oct. 2022 Auburn goes to play arch-rival Georgia between the hedges at Sanford Stadium next week. Nubyjas Wilborn | Nwilborn@al.com, al, 1 Oct. 2022 The sponsorship began in 2013 — the same year that Swift launched a long partnership with Pepsi’s decades-long arch-rival Coca-Cola. Jem Aswad, Variety, 23 Sep. 2022 The stunning arch bridge featured in the show's opening credits is actually located in Big Sur, 18 miles south of Monterey. Mackenzie Schmidt, Peoplemag, 3 Nov. 2022 Facebook brought an arch-Remainer and anti-populist politician on as its head of global affairs. The Editors, National Review, 31 Oct. 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.

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

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Dictionary Entries Near arch

Cite this Entry

“Arch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/arch. Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

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

Medical Definition

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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