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[eyk] /eɪk/
verb (used without object), ached, aching.
to have or suffer a continuous, dull pain:
His whole body ached.
to feel great sympathy, pity, or the like:
Her heart ached for the starving animals.
to feel eager; yearn; long:
She ached to be the champion. He's just aching to get even.
a continuous, dull pain (in contrast to a sharp, sudden, or sporadic pain).
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.
1. hurt. 4. See pain. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ache
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It might be easier, Ben thought, to endure the ache of waiting if Shawn himself would look aft again, but he would not.

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

    The Gentleman From Indiana Booth Tarkington
  • He was thankful that the ache had entirely left his throat and that a strange warmth had kindled in his breast.

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

  • The whitewashed walls were so painfully bare and staring that she thought they must ache over their own bareness.

    Anne Of Green Gables Lucy Maud Montgomery
British Dictionary definitions for ache


verb (intransitive)
to feel, suffer, or be the source of a continuous dull pain
to suffer mental anguish
a continuous dull pain
Derived Forms
aching, adjective
achingly, 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
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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.


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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ache in Medicine

ache (āk)
A dull persistent pain. v. ached, ach·ing, aches
To suffer a dull, sustained pain.

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


American College of Healthcare Executives
American Council for Headache Education
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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