An ache is a dull, lingering pain. An ache in your calves after your morning jog might mean you didn't stretch enough before you started running.

You might describe your discomfort as a head ache or a stomach ache — in either case, there's a throbbing or continuous pain. A non-physical hurt can also be called an ache, and you can use the word as a verb in either case: "It feels like my heart will ache forever, since my sweet cat died." The Old English root is acan, "to suffer pain," possibly from an imitative Proto-Indo-European word that sounds like a groan.

Definitions of ache

n a dull persistent (usually moderately intense) pain

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odontalgia, toothache
an ache localized in or around a tooth
an ache localized in the back
cephalalgia, head ache, headache
pain in the head caused by dilation of cerebral arteries or muscle contractions or a reaction to drugs
bellyache, gastralgia, stomach ache, stomachache
an ache localized in the stomach or abdominal region
earache, otalgia
an ache localized in the middle or inner ear
pain in the teeth that results from a change in air pressure (as in flying or mountain climbing)
cluster headache, histamine headache
a painful recurring headache associated with the release of histamine from cells
hemicrania, megrim, migraine, sick headache
a severe recurring vascular headache; occurs more frequently in women than men
sick headache
a headache accompanied by nausea
sinus headache
a headache resulting from congestion or infection in the paranasal sinuses
tension headache
a headache located at the back of the head; usually caused by body tension resulting from overwork or psychological stress
lumbago, lumbar pain
backache affecting the lumbar region or lower back; can be caused by muscle strain or arthritis or vascular insufficiency or a ruptured intervertebral disc
Type of:
hurting, pain
a symptom of some physical hurt or disorder

v feel physical pain

hurt, suffer
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catch, get
suffer from the receipt of
feel a sudden sharp, local pain
prick, sting, twinge
cause a stinging pain
be the source of great pain for
prick, prickle
cause a prickling sensation
Type of:
comprehend, perceive
to become aware of through the senses

v be the source of pain

hurt, smart
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bite, burn, sting
cause a sharp or stinging pain or discomfort
feel hot or painful
have or perceive an itch
feel the need to eat
feel the need to drink
act up
make itself felt as a recurring pain
pulsate or pound with abnormal force
cause a sharp and sudden pain in
tickle, titillate, vellicate
touch (a body part) lightly so as to excite the surface nerves and cause uneasiness, laughter, or spasmodic movements
nettle, urticate
sting with or as with nettles and cause a stinging pain or sensation
twitch or throb with pain
prickle, tingle
cause a stinging or tingling sensation
Type of:
cause to be perceived
have perceptible qualities

v have a desire for something or someone who is not present

“She ached for a cigarette”
languish, pine, yearn, yen
languish as with love or desire
Type of:
hanker, long, yearn
desire strongly or persistently

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