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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.

Synonyms for ache

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1. hurt.

Synonym study

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

Related Words for ache

soreness, twinge, pang, misery, anguish, spasm, throb, throe, suffering, hurt, smarting, pounding, throbbing, pound, pain, suffer, smart

Examples from the Web for ache

Contemporary Examples of ache

Historical Examples of ache

  • 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 for ache

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.