• Reach


    • IPA: /ɹiːtʃ/
    • Rhymes: -iːtʃ


    From Middle English rechen, from Old English rǣċan ("to reach"), from Proto-Germanic *raikijaną, from the Proto-Indo-European *h₃reǵ- ("to stretch"). Cognate with Dutch reiken, German reichen.

    Full definition of reach


    1. To extend; to stretch; to thrust out; to put forth, as a limb, a member, something held, or the like.
      He reached for a weapon that was on the table.   He reached for his shoe with his legs.
    2. Hence, to deliver by stretching out a member, especially the hand; to give with the hand; to pass to another; to hand over.
      to reach one a book
    3. To attain or obtain by stretching forth the hand; to extend some part of the body, or something held by one, so as to touch, strike, grasp, etc.
      to reach an object with the hand, or with a spear;   I can't quite reach the pepper, could you pass it to me?   The gun was stored in a small box on a high closet shelf, but the boy managed to reach it by climbing on other boxes.
    4. To strike or touch with a missile.
      to reach an object with an arrow, a bullet, or a shell
    5. Hence, to extend an action, effort, or influence to; to penetrate to; to pierce, or cut, as far as.
      • 1898, Winston Churchill, The Celebrity Chapter 4, Judge Short had gone to town, and Farrar was off for a three days' cruise up the lake. I was bitterly regretting I had not gone with him when the distant notes of a coach horn reached my ear, and I descried a four-in-hand winding its way up the inn road from the direction of Mohair.
    6. To extend to; to stretch out as far as; to touch by virtue of extent.
      his hand reaches the river
      • MiltonThy desire ... leads to no excess
        That reaches blame.
    7. To arrive at by effort of any kind; to attain to; to gain; to be advanced to.
      After three years, he reached the position of manager.
      • CheyneThe best account of the appearances of nature which human penetration can reach, comes short of its reality.
      • 1898, Winston Churchill, The Celebrity Chapter 5, But Miss Thorn relieved the situation by laughing aloud,.... By the time we reached the house we were thanking our stars she had come. Mrs. Cooke came out from under the port-cochere to welcome her.
    8. (obsolete) To understand; to comprehend.
      • Beaumont and FletcherDo what, sir? I reach you not.
    9. (obsolete) To overreach; to deceive.
    10. To stretch out the hand.
    11. To strain after something; to make efforts.
      Reach for your dreams.
    12. (intransitive) To extend in dimension, time etc.; to stretch out continuously (past, beyond, above, from etc. something).
      • 1994, Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, Abacus 2010, p. 4:The Thembu tribe reaches back for twenty generations to King Zwide.
    13. (nautical) To sail on the wind, as from one point of tacking to another, or with the wind nearly abeam.

    Usage notes

    In the past, raught, rought and retcht could be found as past tense forms; these are now obsolete, except perhaps in some dialects.



    (plural reaches)
    1. The act of stretching or extending; extension; power of reaching or touching with the person, or a limb, or something held or thrown.The fruit is beyond my reach.to be within reach of cannon shot
      • 1918, Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Land That Time Forgot (novel) Chapter VI... and we have learned not to fire at any of the dinosaurs unless we can keep out of their reach for at least two minutes after hitting them in the brain or spine, or five minutes after puncturing their hearts—it takes them so long to die.
    2. The power of stretching out or extending action, influence, or the like; power of attainment or management; extent of force or capacity.
      • HaywardDrawn by others who had deeper reaches than themselves to matters which they least intended.
      • Alexander PopeBe sure yourself and your own reach to know.
    3. Extent; stretch; expanse; hence, application; influence; result; scope.
      • MiltonAnd on the left hand, hell,
        With long reach, interposed.
      • ShakespeareI am to pray you not to strain my speech
        To grosser issues, nor to larger reach
        Than to suspicion.
    4. (informal) An exaggeration; an extension beyond evidence or normal; a stretch.To call George eloquent is certainly a reach.
    5. (boxing) The distance a boxer's arm can extend to land a blow.
    6. An extended portion of land or water; a stretch; a straight portion of a stream or river, as from one turn to another; a level stretch, as between locks in a canal; an arm of the sea extending up into the land.
      • TennysonThe river's wooded reach.
      • HollandThe coast ... is very full of creeks and reaches.
    7. (nautical) Any point of sail in which the wind comes from the side of a vessel, excluding close-hauled.
    8. (obsolete) An article to obtain an advantage.
      • Francis BaconThe Duke of Parma had particular reaches and ends of his own underhand to cross the design.
    9. The pole or rod connecting the rear axle with the forward bolster of a wagon.
    10. An effort to vomit; a retching.


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