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
  1. noun
    a dull persistent (usually moderately intense) pain
    synonyms: aching
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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
  2. verb
    feel physical pain
    synonyms: 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
    become aware of through the senses
  3. verb
    be the source of pain
    synonyms: hurt, smart
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    bite, burn, sear, 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
  4. verb
    have a desire for something or someone who is not present
    synonyms: languish, pine, yearn, yen
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    languish as with love or desire
    type of:
    hanker, long, yearn
    desire strongly or persistently
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