Definition of etch in English:



[with object]
  • 1Engrave (metal, glass, or stone) by coating it with a protective layer, drawing on it with a needle, and then covering it with acid to attack the parts the needle has exposed, especially in order to produce prints from it.

    ‘etched glass windows’
    • ‘Light can focus atoms into simple patterns for etching carbon-coated gold layers.’
    • ‘Most manufacturers offer choices of beveled, etched, and stained glass.’
    • ‘The masking layer is patterned so as to form a desired arrangement of metal lines by etching the underlying metal layer.’
    • ‘I experimented with etching copper plates with three different etchants.’
    • ‘The front layer of glass is etched with a grid pattern on the inside surface to form a template for the liquid crystals.’
    • ‘A beginner can produce etched glassware and small flat pieces of glass and mirror with no experience.’
    engrave, carve, inscribe, cut, cut in, incise, chisel, chase, score, notch, imprint, impress, deboss, stamp, print, mark
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    1. 1.1 Use the etching process to produce (a print or design).
      • ‘Their names had been etched into the glass but the pane was shattered by hooligans who climbed onto scaffolding and kicked in the windows.’
      • ‘My fingers lingered on the smooth leaves etched into the metal as I turned to Adam with a questioning look in my eyes.’
      • ‘The early process involved etching a design replicated from a travel book onto a copper plate.’
      • ‘Much controversy still remains regarding the techniques used, but all processes began with etching and/or engraving the desired design on a copperplate.’
      • ‘One submission called for photographs of victims to be etched into glass plates.’
      • ‘Printing that picks up ink from lines cut or etched in a metal plate is called intaglio printing.’
      • ‘She uses acid to etch designs into the surface of metal plates, echoing the way that wind and water wear away at stone over time.’
      • ‘I spot the bar's logo, etched onto the plate glass windows.’
  • 2(of an acid or other solvent) corrode or eat away the surface of (something).

    • ‘All of the crystallized copper was enclosed in calcite, which was etched away with a sulfamic acid solution.’
    • ‘Marble is much softer than granite and is highly porous, so it's easily etched by acids.’
    • ‘Hydrofluoric acid is the only solvent you'll find to etch glass.’
    • ‘The cream etches the glass within a few seconds.’
    • ‘Then acid etches the rest away, leaving the desired pattern.’
    • ‘Sections were etched with dilute hydrochloric acid.’
    • ‘The acid also can etch the surface, which increases the water penetration through the face of the joint.’
    • ‘In the manufacturing process this copper foil is partly etched away, and the remaining copper forms a network of thin wires.’
    • ‘As a by-product, fungi can produce organic acids that will corrode and etch inorganic materials.’
    • ‘It was hard to tell without removing the wax, but Alex thought that the acid had done its job of etching the blade.’
    • ‘The tooth surface is then etched with a gel-like acid to prepare it for an adhesive used to secure the resin composite to the tooth.’
    corrode, bite into, eat away, eat into, burn into
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    1. 2.1 Selectively dissolve the surface of (a semiconductor or printed circuit) with a solvent, laser, or stream of electrons.
      • ‘By shrinking the size of the transistors and other features etched into the silicon, more of the tiny devices can be squeezed onto a single chip.’
      • ‘Until Ishikawa, no one had tried to etch a semiconductor's tiny circuitry onto a curved surface, much less onto a sphere.’
      • ‘Chip production involves some pretty noxious substances, such as the decidedly nasty hydrofluoric acid used to etch the silicon wafers.’
      • ‘A perfect lens would be able to focus light more narrowly than conventional lenses, making it possible to etch finer electronic circuits and create more compact and powerful computer chips.’
      • ‘These are typically made from layers of epoxy-based resin and fibreglass and copper, on which conductive tracts are etched.’
      • ‘One method uses a lapping medium which chemically etches the selected material more aggressively than the surrounding material, resulting in the selected material being recessed from the surface of the transducer.’
      • ‘And they could play a role in hyper-accurate gyroscopes or help etch superfast computer chips.’
  • 3Cut or carve (a text or design) on a surface.

    ‘her initials were etched on the table’
    figurative ‘his name is etched in baseball history’
    • ‘I could take a screwdriver and etch some very interesting designs on your car, but I doubt you would call me an artist.’
    • ‘The major turned the buckle in his fingers and frowned at the jagged characters etched into the metal.’
    • ‘It was an impressive place, to be sure; the ceiling was high above the floor and intricate designs were etched into the stone and wood.’
    • ‘Guernica is etched in my consciousness as the image of defencelessness, trampled innocence, Franco's savagery.’
    • ‘The poem will be etched in the memorial stone - a tangible acknowledgement of the loss of life and accompanying grief, says Appleton.’
    • ‘The design is etched into the gold leaf with a sharp needle-like instrument.’
    • ‘Miller was the first photojournalist to witness these scenes, and the images she captured are indelibly etched on the public consciousness.’
    • ‘While some actors would resent never being able to shake off their past, John says he is proud to have been responsible for a character who is indelibly etched on the nation's psyche.’
    • ‘Etched inside the shank and barely visible is the jeweller's mark, a delicate snowflake.’
    • ‘The year 1963 is etched in the hearts and minds of many people as the year in which President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.’
    • ‘‘Her nickname was Malva, and that is what is etched onto the glass,’ said Arnot.’
    • ‘The Torah was etched into stone and brought down a mountain.’
    • ‘And it's like other dates that you know are going to be etched in our memory forever.’
    • ‘On either side of him were tall columns of black stone upon which were etched stories of evil gods and battles from long ago.’
    • ‘The date it all started is indelibly etched on the former police officer's memory.’
    • ‘Public education is a responsibility that is etched into the constitutions or statutes of the states.’
    • ‘The final will be a huge undertaking for a team which could be etched in the annals of history.’
    • ‘Islamic words and passages from the Koran (the sacred text of Islam) are often etched in elaborate calligraphy.’
    • ‘So if you want to remember a date that will be etched in history, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast area August 29th.’
    • ‘Wednesday 30th September 1984 was such a life-changing day for me that the date has been etched on my memory ever since.’
    carve, engrave, incise, score
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    1. 3.1 Mark (a surface) with a carved text or design.
      ‘a Pictish stone etched with mysterious designs’
      figurative ‘her face was etched with tiredness’
      • ‘Where needed, precast concrete panel walls are erected, etched with images of local wildlife.’
      • ‘The great claymore shone in all its glory, its black and gold hilt, intricately etched with the markings of the society.’
      • ‘Its surface was etched with carvings and hieroglyphics, dating back to the dawn of the world itself.’
      • ‘Standing at the centre of the memorial are six large basalt obelisks etched with the names of all the countries where Australians have been held prisoner of war.’
      • ‘They also vandalized three fast-food restaurants by etching the glass.’
      carve, inscribe, cut, cut in, incise, chisel, chase, score, imprint, impress, print, mark
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    2. 3.2 Cause to stand out or be clearly defined or visible.
      ‘Jo watched the outline of the town etched against the sky’
      ‘her finely etched profile’
      • ‘His eyes stare dully from a pinched little face etched with pain and suffering.’
      • ‘‘I thought you were different,’ he said, his features etched with disappointment.’
      • ‘Lines of concern, however, were etched into his handsome face, framed by a luxurious mane of shoulder length light brown hair.’
      • ‘Joy was etched on their young faces as they danced to the music, passed the parcel and ate prettily-decorated cakes.’
      • ‘What they achieved during this summer will be forever etched in the history of the club.’
      • ‘Anna ran in the room, her face etched with lines of worry.’
      • ‘But the events which unfolded on the afternoon of January 14 will be forever etched in the memories of all those involved.’
      • ‘The times I have been able to spend with you will always be etched in my memory.’
      • ‘The trials and tribulations that the college faced and the tortuous path it traversed are deeply etched in the memories of those who are associated with it.’
      • ‘Many memories were lost or left behind that day, but some are indelibly etched on the minds of the islanders forever.’
      • ‘I'll never forget what happened in Sydney last year, that's etched in my mind forever.’
      • ‘One sobering statistic that will be forever etched in my mind is that over 3,000 children lost a mother or father on that fateful day.’
      • ‘When the team reflect upon this defeat, two questions will be etched in their minds.’
      • ‘In one vast flash of light, equal to 100 suns, the buildings are etched against a sky of fire.’
      • ‘It was a wonderful game that will forever be etched in the memory.’
      • ‘The Old Man of Storr is etched against a cloudy sky.’
      • ‘But, for the staff and patients who had the chance of a lifetime to speak to Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh, it was a moment that will be etched on their memories forever.’
      • ‘The horror of what followed is permanently etched on countless memories.’
      • ‘I still remember the hurt that was etched on his face as he tried to come to terms with the defeat and more particularly, the manner of that defeat.’
      • ‘Wednesday, April 11 th 2001 will forever be etched in my memory as one of the best days of my life.’
      • ‘Ironically, September 19th, 2003, is etched in the memory of most local people for a completely different reason.’
      outline, delineate, define, demarcate, delimit, mark off, trace
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    3. 3.3be etched (of an experience, image, etc.) be permanently fixed in someone's memory.
      ‘the events remain etched in the minds of all who witnessed them’


  • The action or process of etching something.

    • ‘The chips are encoded by generating nanometer-thick layers of porous films on the wafers using a special electrochemical etch.’
    • ‘By using retarding agents of different strengths within the same panel, decorative features can be created by varying the depth of the etch on elements of a pattern or design.’
    • ‘It's a simple technique: put the carbon paper where you want your etch, take the line drawing, and use a pen to trace over it.’
    • ‘Sandblasting allows better control of the depth of the etch.’
    • ‘Jim continued to run his fingers over the artifact, exploring each etch and nick.’
    • ‘These solutions are available from several manufacturers in different strengths to achieve the required depth of etch and a finish that meets the original specification.’


Mid 17th century: from Dutch etsen, from German ätzen, from a base meaning ‘cause to eat’; related to eat.