Definition of arch in English:



  • 1A curved symmetrical structure spanning an opening and typically supporting the weight of a bridge, roof, or wall above it.

    • ‘The primary structure of steel arches was chosen to span a cavernous underground cistern, part of the city's drainage system, and avoid underwater foundations.’
    • ‘Medina structures with Arabic-style arches and crenellated walls are usually found in the oldest parts of town.’
    • ‘The simple lessons of the making of an arch, a wall, or a column form the architect's most fundamental vocabulary.’
    • ‘The system uses the timeless forms of arches, domes, and vaults to create single and double-curvature shell structures that are both strong and beautiful.’
    • ‘Instead, right from the beginning, arches were used to span spaces and to support the weight above.’
    • ‘Each of the five roof arches is flexed across its width, turning it into a stiff double curvature shell.’
    • ‘The new bridge had to span the river with a single arch, without intermediate columns interrupting the water's flow or passage of river traffic.’
    • ‘Slim metal ribs flare out and up from the spinal arches to support the copper-clad roof, its overlapping scales resembling a giant turtle shell.’
    • ‘The station's main entrance is characterized by three elegant arches that are supported on huge Ionic columns.’
    • ‘Some of the arches are cut through walls while others support curved ceilings (vaults).’
    • ‘As the walkway passes between great arches in the wall, and outside to ground level, it turns into a glass balustraded bridge.’
    • ‘According to a newspaper report, the first arch spanned the River Severn on 2nd July 1779.’
    • ‘The room was rectangular, and there were murals of columns supporting Gothic arches on the walls within.’
    • ‘The arches supporting the weight above still held as strong as the day they were built.’
    • ‘The two main parabolic arches of the bridge create two continuous, tilted, tied arches as the support spans for this unique steel structure.’
    • ‘The triple arch on Bridge Street, which spans the main road into town from Lurgan and Gilford, is similar to one photographed in the same place in 1933.’
    • ‘The result brings to mind support structures for vaulted arches (for instance Gaudi's Sagrada Familia).’
    • ‘No attempts were made to solve the problems of spanning large distances by the use of the arch, vault or dome, which were by this time common in other parts of the world.’
    • ‘Even in the church, a carved stone head of uncertain origin was found buried in a wall above a window arch in the building's north transept.’
    • ‘Compressive form-active structures are also produced in metal, usually in the form of lattice arches or vaults, to achieve very long spans.’
    archway, vault, span, dome
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    1. 1.1 An arch forming a monument or ornamental feature.
      ‘a triumphal arch’
      • ‘That feature most symbolic of entrance, the triumphal arch, is to be found only at the foot of the Capitol, where the ancient texts place it.’
      • ‘The city grew up around its Roman monuments, which include a semicircular theatre and a triumphal arch.’
      • ‘Behind the column is the vast triumphal arch that joins the two wings of the General Staff Building.’
      • ‘In Roman baths and on triumphal arches there were other ways of expressing height.’
      • ‘It was also reported that at numerous places on the road from Levens Hall to the entrance to Kendal, several triumphal arches and other forms of decorations were on show.’
      • ‘The scale of the triumphal arch is gargantuan and this is reinforced by its highly simplified architectural detail.’
      • ‘The Corinthia consists of two curving towers, one slightly taller than the other, linked by a cavernous reception area topped by a triumphal arch.’
      • ‘The reverse commemorates the building of his triumphal arch, which still stands in Rome beside the Coliseum.’
      • ‘In the late third century the site was levelled, including the triumphal arch, and a larger Saxon Shore fort constructed in stone, the walls of which now dominate the site.’
      • ‘Within the city, notable monuments include a splendid arch and a screen of gods of late second or early third century date.’
      • ‘The new stadium's most dramatic feature will be a 133-metre high arch, visible across London.’
      • ‘The first treasure the society fought to preserve was the monumental arch at Euston station, a supreme example of Greek revival architecture.’
      • ‘An impression of the original statue group on top may be gained from the chariot groups on the triumphal arch in the relief on the south.’
      • ‘His successes are commemorated in a number of grandiose effigies, triumphal arches, vast frescoes and victory columns.’
      • ‘On it was erected a triumphal arch in Augustus's honor.’
      • ‘The lower frame is modelled as a triumphal arch flanked by bound captives.’
      • ‘The areas outside were enclosed and equipped with triumphal arches and calvaires - essentially Crucifixion scenes on poles, set about with extraordinarily rich biblical scenes.’
      • ‘Pusading's ornamental arch has a pair of stone lions and the stone wall facing them was apparently built to block their vision.’
      • ‘Formerly senior lecturer in classics at Royal Holloway, Peter Howell is writing a book on triumphal arches.’
      • ‘Most of them were monuments to Leopold himself: triumphal arches, palaces, seaside resorts, museums, parks, royal châteaux and even golf courses.’
    2. 1.2 A shape resembling an arch.
      ‘the delicate arch of his eyebrows’
      • ‘I watched as an arch of water doused the flames we had left behind.’
      • ‘The arch of the lower cable reflects that of the upper cable.’
      • ‘The queen of the skies taxied onto the apron at Ringway through a welcoming arch of water canons blasted from a pair of airport fire engines.’
      • ‘He knew that because it was in the shape of an arch formed by elephant tusks.’
      • ‘The Helium filled balloons which had formed an arch of honour over the entrance gate were tied to the two coaches and accompanying cars to make for a colourful entryway.’
      • ‘Through the arch of the cave, as far as the eye can see, misted peaks sit, poised like advancing waves.’
      • ‘The upper arch of the full lunette shape, although not indicated in the print, can be easily imagined as fitting over the design.’
      • ‘I didn't have to fake the confused arch of my eyebrows or the incredulous glint to my stare.’
      • ‘The arch of her eyebrow cast her face in an expression of amusement.’
      • ‘He placed his big hand over his clown mask and slid it back to rest on the gentle arch of his nose, like a snug pair of glasses, then his jaws took a mighty bite.’
      • ‘I went upstairs to see the extraordinary arch of honour made of printed pages he did for Maximiliam I.’
      • ‘These people who had so little had a welcoming party to meet the group and they had built an arch of welcome out of greenery.’
      • ‘At the church entrance John's rowing companions formed an arch of oars, under which John's remains passed.’
      • ‘Te Namu sat on a triangular arch of sand, bounded on one side by a steep cliff and cut off on another by a stream.’
      • ‘We passed under the arch of green creepers and entered my room.’
      • ‘As the levator ani passes downward both anteriorly and posteriorly, it forms an arch of muscular tissue, also called a sling.’
      • ‘Under the arch of her eyebrows, her wide brown eyes glowed with their vague hint of secrecy, their quiet incandescence.’
      • ‘Airport staff waved flags as Concorde taxied to a halt through an arch of water cannon provided by the airport fire service.’
      curve, bow, bend, arc, semicircle, sweep
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    3. 1.3 The inner side of the foot.
      ‘the muscles in the arch of my right foot suddenly seized up’
      • ‘No one really knows what causes these sudden, painful muscle spasms in the calf, the thigh or the arch of the foot.’
      • ‘She also had a procedure to create arches on each foot because she was born without any.’
      • ‘Sitting on the ground with your knees slightly bent and your legs out in front of you, place a towel around the arches of your feet, then hold an end with each hand, arms bent.’
      • ‘If the bridge between the heel and the front foot is less than one-third the width of your heel, you have a high arch - your feet are begging for cushioning.’
      • ‘He himself had suffered for years with falling arches in his feet and had been recommended to use orthotics in the soles of his shoes.’
      • ‘The demonstrators don't appear to have high arches or ridiculously small feet either as, alas, do I.’
      • ‘Raise your right heel as you gently press your metatarsal arch (where your toes join your foot) into the floor.’
      • ‘This is true of many people with low arches or flat feet.’
      • ‘Also, as people age, their feet become longer and wider, the padding on the heels and balls of the feet thins and the arches tend to fall a bit.’
      • ‘Your weight should be neutral, balanced over the arches of your feet.’
      • ‘Slowly work your way up your foot - the top, the ball, the arch, the heel; up your leg to your hip… and then do the other side.’
      • ‘In contrast, the A. afarensis bone resembled that of the flat-footed apes, making it improbable that its foot had an arch like our own.’
      • ‘Most of it's standard - obviously if you spend a lot of time crouched over, you'll have a sore back - but I'm slightly worried that the arches of my feet hurt.’
      • ‘The shank is 3/4 length, which helps the bones in my feet because my arch can sit on it and I don't have to work so much.’
      • ‘When excessive, high arches or flat feet can cause compensatory rotation in the tibia and other mechanical stressors in the legs, leading to pain and predisposing to injury.’
      • ‘Flat feet, low arches, and loose ligaments also contribute to the formation of bunions.’
      • ‘The arches of the feet are maintained by strong ligaments which are prevented from stretching by muscles in the legs.’
      • ‘A foot with a high arch, on the other hand, will have a large indentation and a very narrow band connecting the ball of the foot to the heel.’
      • ‘Stretching the two big toes toward each other and the little toes away from each other strengthens and lifts the three arches of the foot.’
      • ‘Start off by massaging your entire foot - heel, arch and toes.’


Middle English: from Old French arche, based on Latin arcus ‘bow’.