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arch1 noun (arches) 1 a curved structure forming an opening, and consisting of wedge-shaped stones or other pieces supporting each other by mutual pressure, used to sustain an overlying weight such as a roof or bridge, or for ornament. 2 anything shaped like an arch, especially a monument. 3 the bony structure of the foot between the heel and the toes, normally having an upward curve. 4 one of the four possible configurations of human fingerprints. verb (arches, arched, arching) 1 to form an arch. 2 to span something like an arch.
ETYMOLOGY: 14c: from Latin arcus bow.
arch2 adj 1 (usually in compounds) chief, principal their arch enemy, the Penguin. 2 most experienced that arch crime writer, Jim Thompson. 3 cunning, knowing gave an arch look. 4 self-consciously playful or coy. archness noun.
ETYMOLOGY: 17c: from arch- as in such combinations as 'arch-villain'.
arch- or archi- combining form 1 chief; most important; highest-ranking archduke. 2 most esteemed, feared, extreme, etc of its kind arch-conservative arch-criminal.
ETYMOLOGY: Anglo-Saxon arce, from Greek archos chief, from archein to rule.
Archaean or (US) Archean adj, geol denoting the earlier of the two geological eons into which the Precambrian period is divided, extending from the time of formation of the Earth to about 2 500 million years ago.
ETYMOLOGY: 19c: from Greek archaios ancient.
archaebacterium noun (archaebacteria) biol any of various different kinds of micro-organisms which resemble ordinary bacteria in size and in the primitive nature of their structure but which evolved separately, probably about 3-4 billion years ago, so that the organization of their molecules is unique. archaebacterial adj.
archaeo- or (US) archeo- combining form, indicating ancient; primitive archaeology.
ETYMOLOGY: From Greek archaios, from archein to begin.
archaeology or (US) archeology noun the excavation and subsequent study of the physical remains of earlier civilizations, especially buildings and artefacts, which now benefits from advances in scientific techniques such as carbon dating. archaeological or archeological adj. archaeologically or archeologically adverb. archaeologist or archeologist.
archaeometry noun the use of technical and scientific methods in archaeology, especially to help in the dating of objects. archaeometric adj. archaeometrist noun.
archaeopteryx noun the oldest fossil bird, known from the Jurassic period in Europe, which had feathers, but differed from modern birds in having a long bony tail supported by vertebrae, and sharp teeth on both jaws.
ETYMOLOGY: 19c: archaeo- + Greek pteryx wing.
archaic adj 1 ancient; relating or referring to, or from, a much earlier period. 2 out of date; old-fashioned. 3 said of a word, phrase, etc: no longer in general use, but sometimes used for special effect. archaically adverb.
ETYMOLOGY: 19c: from Greek archaikos, from archaios ancient.
archaism noun 1 an archaic word, expression or style. 2 the deliberate use of archaic words, expressions or style.
ETYMOLOGY: 17c: from Greek archaizein to copy the language of the ancient writers.
archaize or archaise verb (archaized, archaizing) to make something archaic in appearance or style.
archangel noun a an angel of the highest rank; b in the traditional medieval hierarchy of nine ranks of angels: an angel of the eighth (second-lowest) rank. Compare seraph, cherub, throne, dominion, virtue, power, principality, angel.
archbishop noun a chief bishop who is in charge of all the other bishops, clergy and churches in a particular area.
ETYMOLOGY: Anglo-Saxon arcebiscop.
archbishopric noun 1 the office of an archbishop. 2 the area that is governed by an archbishop. Also called see, diocese.
archdeacon noun, C of E a member of the clergy who ranks just below a bishop. See archidiaconal. archdeaconry noun 1 the office or duties of an archdeacon. 2 the house in which an archdeacon lives.
ETYMOLOGY: Anglo-Saxon arcediacon.
archdiocese noun, C of E the area under the control of an archbishop.
archduchess noun 1 historical a princess in the Austrian royal family. 2 the wife of an archduke.
archduchy noun the area ruled by an archduke.
archduke noun the title of some princes, especially formerly the son of the Emperor of Austria.
arched adj 1 having an arch or arches. 2 shaped like an arch.
archegonium noun (-ia) in ferns, mosses, liverworts, etc, and in many gymnosperms: the often flask-shaped structure in which the female gamete develops.
ETYMOLOGY: 19c: from arch- + Greek gonos seed.
archenemy noun 1 a chief enemy. 2 the Devil.
archeology an alternative US spelling of archaeology.
archer noun 1 someone who uses a bow and arrow. 2 (the Archer) the constellation and sign of the zodiac Sagittarius.
ETYMOLOGY: 13c: from French archier, from Latin arcus bow.
archer fish noun a freshwater fish found in S and SE Asia and Australia that spits jets of water at insects, knocking them into the water and then eating them.
archery noun the art or sport of shooting with a bow and arrow.
archetype noun 1 an original model; a prototype. 2 a perfect example. archetypal adj. archetypally adverb.
ETYMOLOGY: 16c: from Greek arche beginning + typos model.
archfiend noun the Devil.
archidiaconal adj referring or relating to an archdeacon or archdeaconry.
archiepiscopal adj relating or referring to an archbishop or an archbishopric.
ETYMOLOGY: 17c: from Greek archiepiskopos archbishop.
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