1 [ahrch]
a curved masonry construction for spanning an opening, consisting of a number of wedgelike stones, bricks, or the like, set with the narrower side toward the opening in such a way that forces on the arch are transmitted as vertical or oblique stresses on either side of the opening.
an upwardly curved construction, as of steel or timber functioning in the manner of a masonry arch.
a doorway, gateway, etc., having a curved head; an archway.
the curved head of an opening, as a doorway.
any overhead curvature resembling an arch.
something bowed or curved; any bowlike part: the arch of the foot.
a device inserted in or built into shoes for supporting the arch of the foot.
a dam construction having the form of a barrel vault running vertically with its convex face toward the impounded water.
a chamber or opening in a glassmaking furnace.
verb (used with object)
to cover with a vault, or span with an arch: the rude bridge that arched the flood.
to throw or make into the shape of an arch or vault; curve: The horse arched its neck.
verb (used without object)
to form an arch: elms arching over the road.
Nautical, hog ( def 14 ).

1250–1300; Middle English arch(e) < Old French arche < Vulgar Latin *arca, feminine variant of Latin arcus arc Unabridged


2 [ahrch]
playfully roguish or mischievous: an arch smile.
cunning; crafty; sly.
Obsolete. a person who is preeminent; a chief.

independent use of arch-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.

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


variant of archi- before a vowel: archangel; archenteron.


a combining form meaning “chief, leader, ruler,” used in the formation of compound words: monarch; matriarch; heresiarch.

< Greek -archos or -archēs, as comb. forms of árchos leader; cf. archi-


arch. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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World English Dictionary
arch1 (ɑːtʃ)
1.  a curved structure, normally in the vertical plane, that spans an opening
2.  Also called: archway a structure in the form of an arch that serves as a gateway
3.  something curved like an arch
4.  a.  any of various parts or structures of the body having a curved or archlike outline, such as the transverse portion of the aorta (arch of the aorta) or the raised bony vault formed by the tarsal and metatarsal bones (arch of the foot)
 b.  loop Compare whorl one of the basic patterns of the human fingerprint, formed by several curved ridges one above the other
5.  (tr) to span (an opening) with an arch
6.  to form or cause to form an arch or a curve resembling that of an arch: the cat arched its back
7.  (tr) to span or extend over: the bridge arched the flooded stream
[C14: from Old French arche, from Vulgar Latin arca (unattested), from Latin arcus bow, arc]

arch2 (ɑːtʃ)
1.  (prenominal) chief; principal; leading: his arch rival
2.  (prenominal) very experienced; expert: an arch criminal
3.  knowing or superior
4.  playfully or affectedly roguish or mischievous
[C16: independent use of arch-]

abbreviation for
1.  archaic
2.  archaism

arch- or archi-
combining form
1.  chief; principal; of highest rank: archangel; archbishop; archduke
2.  eminent above all others of the same kind; extreme: archenemy; archfiend; archfool
[ultimately from Greek arkhi-, from arkhein to rule]
archi- or archi-
combining form
[ultimately from Greek arkhi-, from arkhein to rule]

n combining form
leader; ruler; chief: patriarch; monarch; heresiarch
[from Greek -arkhēs, from arkhein to rule; compare arch-]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, from O.Fr. arche "arch of a bridge," from L. arcus (see arc). Replaced native bow (n.1). Transferred by 1590 to anything having this form (eyebrows, etc.). The verb meaning "to curve" is from 1620s. Related: Archway (1802).

1540s, "chief, principal," from prefix arch- (from Gk. arkhos "chief;" see archon); used in 12c. archangel, etc., but extended to so many derogatory uses (arch-rogue, arch-knave, etc.) that it acquired a meaning of "roguish, mischievous," since softened to "saucy" (1660s).
Also found in archwife (late 14c.) "A wife of a superior order."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

arch (ärch)
An organ or structure having a curved or bowlike appearance, especially either of two arched sections of the bony structure of the foot.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

arch definition

In architecture, a curved or pointed opening that spans a doorway, window, or other space.

Note: The form of arch used in building often serves to distinguish styles of architecture from one another. For example, Romanesque architecture usually employs a round arch, and Gothic architecture, a pointed arch.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
  1. archaic

  2. archaism

  3. archery

  4. archipelago

  5. architect

  6. architectural

  7. architecture

  8. archives

The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Bible Dictionary

Arch definition

an architectural term found only in Ezek. 40:16, 21, 22, 26, 29. There is no absolute proof that the Israelites employed arches in their buildings. The arch was employed in the building of the pyramids of Egypt. The oldest existing arch is at Thebes, and bears the date B.C. 1350. There are also still found the remains of an arch, known as Robinson's Arch, of the bridge connecting Zion and Moriah. (See TYROPOEON VALLEY.)

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
We were going to climb up for a close look at a natural sandstone arch which had just been discovered recently.
If you look at the foot from the side, it is the bone that sits at the top of the arch.
This makes it a three-side structure, and each side is marked bv a long, sweeping arch.
Spandrel is an architectural term for the space between an arch and its surrounding structure.
Images for arch
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