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  1. a pain located in the head, as over the eyes, at the temples, or at the base of the skull.
  2. an annoying or bothersome person, situation, activity, etc.

Origin of headache

before 1000; Middle English; Old English hēafodece. See head, ache
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for headache

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The nurses' rooms were subject to inspection, and she had pleaded a headache.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • Carlotta Harrison pleaded a headache, and was excused from the operating-room and from prayers.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • Let me hit you but one box on the ear, and you'll never have the headache again.

    Tanglewood Tales

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • Mrs. Beaufort, languid and afflicted with headache, said little.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • He went to the dinner, but she did not appear: she had a headache, his hostess explained.

British Dictionary definitions for headache


  1. pain in the head, caused by dilation of cerebral arteries, muscle contraction, insufficient oxygen in the cerebral blood, reaction to drugs, etcTechnical name: cephalalgia
  2. informal any cause of worry, difficulty, or annoyance
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

Word Origin and History for headache


Old English heafodece; see head (n.) + ache (n.). Colloquial sense of "troublesome problem" is first recorded 1934.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

headache in Medicine


  1. A pain in the head.cephalalgia
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

headache in Science


  1. Pain in the head, caused by stimulation of or pressure to any of various structures of the head, such as tissue covering the cranium, cranial nerves, or blood vessels. Headache can be a primary disorder, as in migraine or cluster headaches, or a common symptom associated with head injury or many illnesses such as acute infection, brain tumor or abscess, eye disorders such as glaucoma, dental disease, and hypertension. See also cluster headache migraine.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.