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Line breaks: ache
Pronunciation: /eɪk

Definition of ache in English:


1A continuous or prolonged dull pain in a part of one’s body: the ache in her head worsened a handful of salt in the bath water is good for aches and pains [mass noun]: he had stomach ache
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, dull pain, pang, twinge, throb;
gnawing, stabbing, sting, stinging, spasm, muscular spasm, cramp, convulsion;
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  
1Suffer from a continuous dull pain: my legs ached from the previous day’s exercise I’m aching all over
More example sentences
  • But by now I was bed-bound, unable to think straight, aching continually with what appeared to be a consistent low-grade flu.
  • He was sore and ached, but his leg suffered no real damage.
  • She was aching with pain and felt weak, helpless, frightened and much worse than any of those combined: hopeless.
hurt, be sore, be painful, be in pain, throb, pound, twinge;
smart, gnaw, burn, tingle, sting, be uncomfortable, be tender, give someone trouble
informal play up, give someone gyp
painful, achy, sore, stiff, hurt, tender, uncomfortable, troublesome;
hurting, in pain, throbbing, pounding, twingeing;
smarting, gnawing, burning, tingling, stinging, agonizing, searing, feeling tender, feeling uncomfortable, giving someone trouble
informal killing, playing someone up, giving someone gyp
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 sorrowful, be sad, be distressed, be in distress, be miserable, mourn, be mournful, lament, agonize, anguish, be in anguish, suffer, bleed;
eat one's heart out, weep and wail
sorrowful, sad, mournful, miserable, upset, distressed, anguished, heavy with grief, grief-stricken, wretched, heavy;
grieving, sorrowing, mourning, lamenting, in distress, in anguish, suffering, bleeding
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
  • Lydia's fists curled and tightened, aching with the desire to smash his face in.
  • So he had forced himself to leave, though he had been almost aching with desire.
  • A newly orphaned high school boy aches with desire for the savage attentions of the class bully.
long for, yearn for, hunger for, thirst for, hanker for, hanker after, pine for, pine after, itch for, be desperate for, be unable to wait for;
informal have a yen for, yen for, be dying for
archaic be athirst for, suspire for


Old English æce (noun), acan (verb). In Middle English and early modern English the noun was spelled atche and rhymed with 'batch' and 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'.

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