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[ech] /ɛtʃ/
verb (used with object)
to cut, bite, or corrode with an acid or the like; engrave with an acid or the like, as to form a design in furrows that when charged with ink will give an impression on paper.
to produce (a design, image, etc.) by this method, as on copper or glass.
to outline clearly or sharply; delineate, as a person's features or character.
to fix permanently in or implant firmly on the mind; root in the memory:
Our last conversation is etched in my memory.
Geology. to cut (a feature) into the surface of the earth by means of erosion:
A deep canyon was etched into the land by the river's rushing waters.
verb (used without object)
to practice the art of etching.
Printing. an acid used for etching.
Origin of etch
1625-35; < Dutch etsen < German ätzen to etch, orig. cause to eat; cognate with Old English ettan to graze; akin to eat
Related forms
etcher, noun
unetched, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for etch
  • Floodlights, piercing the darkness, etch familiar landmarks in silver against a velvet sky.
  • If the presence of oxygen is enabling this effect, maybe different etch rates may be obtainable with different atmospheres.
  • Tiny diamonds etch its design--olive branches with leaves--and, perched symmetrically upon them, eight doves.
  • Here skaters with a wide range of skills etch their blades into smooth, machine-made ice.
  • Her face was smooth and unscarred, but the fine lines of care were beginning to etch the limpid ivory of her complexion.
  • When he awoke, the feat seemed feasible, if he could employ the technology used to etch microchips.
  • If it is not sufficiently heated that acid can etch the bearings.
  • Braided dried rivulets etch white patterns over the surface as well.
  • It can etch silicon more slowly and more smoothly than other solvents used thus far.
  • The answer the firm has come up with is to etch layers of tiny channels between the slivers of silicon that carry the components.
British Dictionary definitions for etch


(transitive) to wear away the surface of (a metal, glass, etc) by chemical action, esp the action of an acid
to cut or corrode (a design, decoration, etc) on (a metal or other plate to be used for printing) by using the action of acid on parts not covered by wax or other acid-resistant coating
(transitive) to cut with or as if with a sharp implement: he etched his name on the table
(transitive; usually passive) to imprint vividly: the event was etched on her memory
Derived Forms
etcher, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Dutch etsen, from Old High German azzen to feed, bite
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 etch

1630s, "to engrave by eating away the surface of with acids," from Dutch etsen, from German ätzen "to etch," from Old High German azzon "cause to bite, feed," from Proto-Germanic *atjanan, causative of *etanan "eat" (see eat). Related: Etched; etching.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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