Word Origin & History
O.E. acan "to ache, suffer pain," from P.Gmc. *akanan, perhaps from a PIE base *ag-es- "fault, guilt," represented also in Skt. and Gk., perhaps imitative of groaning. The noun is M.E. æche, from O.E. æce, from P.Gmc. *akiz. The verb was pronounced "ake," the noun "ache" (by
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 Gk. origin (Gk. akhos "pain, distress"). Achy (adj.) first attested 1875 in George Eliot's letters.