to have or suffer a continuous, dull pain:
His whole body ached.
to feel great sympathy, pity, or the like:
Her heart ached for the starving animals.
to feel eager; yearn; long:
She ached to be the champion. He’s just aching to get even.
a continuous, dull pain (in contrast to a sharp, sudden, or sporadic pain).
Contemporary Examples

If you’ve occupied the different points on a romantic triangle, your heart might ache just a bit thinking about these three.
Chile’s Etiquette of Love Tracy Quan October 15, 2010

The Afghan people are entitled to peace and self-determination and, indeed, ache for these things.
What Obama Doesn’t Know About Afghanistan Dan Rather March 22, 2009

I miss it with an ache every day of my life, and I fear for the family I have in the Negev, where Palestinian rockets land.
For Israel—With Love And Squalor Emily L. Hauser November 14, 2012

Your back is starting to ache, fingers locking up from overuse, and right now you truly appreciate the cheesesteak.
The Perfect Cheesesteak Tom McAllister May 17, 2010

But the ache got worse and worse and the next time I fell I couldn’t pick him up again, so I dragged him home by the leg.
The Stacks: A Dog Dies, a Boy Grows Up Pete Dexter June 20, 2014

Historical Examples

It might be easier, Ben thought, to endure the ache of waiting if Shawn himself would look aft again, but he would not.
Wilderness of Spring Edgar Pangborn

It made his eyes yearn for the sight of her with an ache that was physical.
The Gentleman From Indiana Booth Tarkington

He was thankful that the ache had entirely left his throat and that a strange warmth had kindled in his breast.
The Spinner’s Book of Fiction Various

“Your father is nothing but an ache and a stound to you, lass,” Sim would say in a whimper.
The Shadow of a Crime Hall Caine

The whitewashed walls were so painfully bare and staring that she thought they must ache over their own bareness.
Anne Of Green Gables Lucy Maud Montgomery

verb (intransitive)
to feel, suffer, or be the source of a continuous dull pain
to suffer mental anguish
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.).

ache (āk)
A dull persistent pain. v. ached, ach·ing, aches
To suffer a dull, sustained pain.
American College of Healthcare Executives
American Council for Headache Education


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