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[ech] /ɛtʃ/
verb (used with object)
to cut, bite, or corrode with an acid or the like; engrave with an acid or the like, as to form a design in furrows that when charged with ink will give an impression on paper.
to produce (a design, image, etc.) by this method, as on copper or glass.
to outline clearly or sharply; delineate, as a person's features or character.
to fix permanently in or implant firmly on the mind; root in the memory:
Our last conversation is etched in my memory.
Geology. to cut (a feature) into the surface of the earth by means of erosion:
A deep canyon was etched into the land by the river's rushing waters.
verb (used without object)
to practice the art of etching.
Printing. an acid used for etching.
Origin of etch
1625-35; < Dutch etsen < German ätzen to etch, orig. cause to eat; cognate with Old English ettan to graze; akin to eat
Related forms
etcher, noun
unetched, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for etch
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In reply to remonstrances, he gave the reasonable explanation that no man could etch all day long.

  • Nothing was needed now except to etch the design in the upper cylinder.

    The Invention of Lithography Alois Senefelder
  • Daguerre learned how to let one flower etch its image on his plate of iodine; and then proceeds at leisure to etch a million.

  • Then, I love to etch, particularly on noses, and that was a good big one.

    Daisy Miranda Eliot Swan
  • The terms were, that Turner was to etch and Lewis to aquatint at five guineas a plate.

    Turner William Cosmo Monkhouse
British Dictionary definitions for etch


(transitive) to wear away the surface of (a metal, glass, etc) by chemical action, esp the action of an acid
to cut or corrode (a design, decoration, etc) on (a metal or other plate to be used for printing) by using the action of acid on parts not covered by wax or other acid-resistant coating
(transitive) to cut with or as if with a sharp implement: he etched his name on the table
(transitive; usually passive) to imprint vividly: the event was etched on her memory
Derived Forms
etcher, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Dutch etsen, from Old High German azzen to feed, bite
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for etch

1630s, "to engrave by eating away the surface of with acids," from Dutch etsen, from German ätzen "to etch," from Old High German azzon "cause to bite, feed," from Proto-Germanic *atjanan, causative of *etanan "eat" (see eat). Related: Etched; etching.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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