• synonyms


See more synonyms for ache on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object), ached, ach·ing.
  1. to have or suffer a continuous, dull pain: His whole body ached.
  2. to feel great sympathy, pity, or the like: Her heart ached for the starving animals.
  3. to feel eager; yearn; long: She ached to be the champion. He's just aching to get even.
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  1. a continuous, dull pain (in contrast to a sharp, sudden, or sporadic pain).
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Origin of ache

before 900; (v.) Middle English aken, Old English acan; perhaps metaphoric use of earlier unattested sense “drive, impel” (compare Old Norse aka, cognate with Latin agere, Greek ágein); (noun) derivative of the v.


See more synonyms for ache on Thesaurus.com
1. hurt.

Synonym study

4. See pain.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ache

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • She had dreaded her loneliness with the ache that is despair; but she was not lonely any more.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • It made his eyes yearn for the sight of her with an ache that was physical.

  • For my own part I was now feeling the ache of numerous and severe bruises.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede

    George MacDonald

  • Many years ago she died, but the ache comes back now, as I think of her.

    Kent Knowles: Quahaug

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • "Your father is nothing but an ache and a stound to you, lass," Sim would say in a whimper.

British Dictionary definitions for ache


verb (intr)
  1. to feel, suffer, or be the source of a continuous dull pain
  2. to suffer mental anguish
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  1. a continuous dull pain
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Derived Formsaching, adjectiveachingly, adverb

Word Origin

Old English ācan (vb), æce (n), Middle English aken (vb), ache (n). Compare bake, batch
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 ache


Old English acan "to ache, suffer pain," from Proto-Germanic *akanan, perhaps from a PIE root *ag-es- "fault, guilt," represented also in Sanskrit and Greek, perhaps imitative of groaning. The verb was pronounced "ake," the noun "ache" (as in speak/speech) but while the noun changed pronunciation to conform to the verb, the spelling of both was changed to ache c.1700 on a false assumption of a Greek origin (specifically Greek akhos "pain, distress," which is rather a distant relation of awe (n.)). Related: Ached; aching.

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early 15c., æche, from Old English æce, from Proto-Germanic *akiz, from same source as ache (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

ache in Medicine


  1. A dull persistent pain.
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  1. To suffer a dull, sustained pain.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.