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ache Syllabification: ache

Definition of ache in English:


1A continuous or prolonged dull pain in a part of one’s body: the ache in her head worsened
More example sentences
  • She got out of bed, her body protesting with aches and stiffness.
  • He tried to sit up but the aches in his body made him lie back flat on the bed.
  • We listened to more Berber wisdom; their main cure, apart from the garlic, being the wonderment of first pressing olive oil for everything from backache to stomach aches.
pain, cramp, twinge, pang;
gnawing, stabbing, stinging, smarting;
2 [in singular] An emotion experienced with painful or bittersweet intensity: an ache in her heart
More example sentences
  • But surprisingly to her, the painful ache in her heart did not come, nor did tears well up in her eyes.
  • And now there is an intense ache where he was, where he would have been in all these things.
  • It's more brazen, more shot through with the raw ache of relationships and the nakedness of emotional experience.


[no object] Back to top  
1(Of a person) suffer from a continuous dull pain: I’m aching all over
More example sentences
  • She is talking up a storm and making my stomach ache with laughter.
  • When my back starts to ache, I'll carry my laptop downstairs and work standing up on the counter in my kitchen.
  • Annie's head ached, her ribs hurt from coughing, and the simple act of craning her neck to peer through a clear spot on the windshield made her dizzy.
hurt, be sore, be painful, be in pain, pain, throb, pound, twinge;
smart, burn
1.1(Of a part of one’s body) be the source of a continuous dull pain: my legs ached from the previous day’s exercise
More example sentences
  • She breathed out slowly, her body aching and in pain everywhere.
  • His body ached as the pain shot through him from the meeting with the wood floor.
  • Also my body is aching a bit, especially my right wrist.
2Feel intense sadness or compassion: she sat still and silent, her heart aching she looked so tired that my heart ached for her
More example sentences
  • That had been less than a year ago, and Inger's tender heart ached for the child's obvious yearning for comfort.
  • He heart ached for his life and the sadness she felt was far deeper than the pain in her leg or arm.
  • Cameron's heart ached for this poor girl; she looked so hurt when she talked about it.
grieve, sorrow, be in distress, be miserable, be in anguish, bleed
3Feel an intense desire for: she ached for his touch [with infinitive]: he was aching to get his hands on the ball
More example sentences
  • We were aching with a desire to see a winner.
  • Having golfed for a week in Scotland the week before I was aching to play.
  • Anthea has not been on the television for years so is aching to get back into the limelight.
long for, yearn for, hunger for, thirst for, hanker for, pine for, itch for;


aches and pains

Minor pains and discomforts, typically in the muscles.
Example sentences
  • Common symptoms include cramps in the legs, and aches and pains in the muscles, headaches and eye pains.
  • The signs of cold or flu are sneezing, coughing, a sore throat, fever, or minor aches and pains.
  • Good posture can minimize discomfort and keep aches and pains at a minimum.


Old English æce (noun), acan (verb). In and the noun was spelled atche and pronounced so as to rhyme with 'batch', the verb was spelled and pronounced as it is today. The noun began to be pronounced like the verb around 1700. The modern spelling is largely due to Dr. Johnson, who mistakenly assumed its derivation to be from Greek akhos 'pain'.

  • The word ache is a good example of the way that English spelling and pronunciation have developed and in many cases have diverged from each other. The noun comes from Old English and used to be pronounced ‘aitch’ (like the letter H), whereas the verb was originally spelled ake and pronounced the way ache is today. Around 1700, people started pronouncing the noun like the verb. The spelling of the noun has survived, but the word is said in the way the verb (ake) used to be. The modern spelling is largely due to Dr Johnson, who mistakenly assumed that the word came from Greek akhos ‘pain’. Other pairs of words that have survived into modern English with k-for-the-verb and ch-for-the-noun spellings include speak and speech and break and breach.

Words that rhyme with ache

awake, bake, betake, Blake, brake, break, cake, crake, drake, fake, flake, forsake, hake, Jake, lake, make, mistake, opaque, partake, quake, rake, sake, shake, sheikh, slake, snake, splake, stake, steak, strake, take, undertake, wake, wideawake

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