1. causing physical pain or distress: treatment for an aching back.
  2. full of or precipitating nostalgia, grief, loneliness, etc.

verb (used without object), ached, ach·ing.

  1. to have or suffer a continuous, dull pain: His whole body ached.
  2. to feel great sympathy, pity, or the like: Her heart ached for the starving animals.
  3. to feel eager; yearn; long: She ached to be the champion. He’s just aching to get even.


  1. a continuous, dull pain (in contrast to a sharp, sudden, or sporadic pain).

verb (intr)

  1. to feel, suffer, or be the source of a continuous dull pain
  2. to suffer mental anguish


  1. a continuous dull pain

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.).


  1. A dull persistent pain.


  1. To suffer a dull, sustained pain.

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