arch-

1
  1. a combining form that represents the outcome of archi- in words borrowed through Latin from Greek in the Old English period; it subsequently became a productive form added to nouns of any origin, which thus denote individuals or institutions directing or having authority over others of their class (archbishop; archdiocese; archpriest). More recently, arch-1 has developed the senses “principal” (archenemy; archrival) or “prototypical” and thus exemplary or extreme (archconservative); nouns so formed are almost always pejorative.

Origin of arch-

1
Middle English; Old English arce-, ærce-, erce- (> Old Norse erki-) < Latin archi- < Greek (see archi-); but Dutch aarts-, Middle Low German erse-, Middle High German, German Erz- < Medieval Latin arci-, and Gothic ark- directly < Greek. Cf. archangel

arch-

2
  1. variant of archi- before a vowel: archangel; archenteron.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for arch-

arch-

archi-

combining form
  1. chief; principal; of highest rankarchangel; archbishop; archduke
  2. eminent above all others of the same kind; extremearchenemy; archfiend; archfool

Word Origin for arch-

ultimately from Greek arkhi-, from arkhein to rule
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 arch-

also archi-, word-forming element meaning "chief, principal; extreme, ultra; early, primitive," from Latinized form of Greek arkh-, arkhi- "first, chief, primeval," comb. form of arkhos "chief" (see archon).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper