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See also: REACH



From Middle English rechen, from Old English rǣċan (to reach), from Proto-West Germanic *raikijan, from Proto-Germanic *raikijaną, from the Proto-Indo-European *reyǵ- (to bind, reach).



reach (third-person singular simple present reaches, present participle reaching, simple past and past participle reached)

  1. (intransitive) To extend, stretch, or thrust out (for example a limb or object held in the hand).
    He reached for a weapon that was on the table.
    He reached for his shoe with his legs.
  2. (transitive) To give to someone by stretching out a limb, especially the hand; to give with the hand; to pass to another person; to hand over.
    to reach one a book
  3. (intransitive) To stretch out the hand.
  4. (transitive) To attain or obtain by stretching forth the hand; to extend some part of the body, or something held, 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.
  5. (intransitive) To strike or touch with a missile.
    His bullet reached its intended target.
  6. (transitive, by extension) To extend an action, effort, or influence to; to penetrate to; to pierce, or cut.
    • 1889, The Kindergarten-Primary Magazine (volume 1, page 119)
      A few words, lovingly, encouragingly spoken failed to reach her heart.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, in The Celebrity:
      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.
  7. (transitive) To extend to; to stretch out as far as; to touch by virtue of extent.
    his hand reaches the river
    When the forest reaches the river, you will be able to rest.
  8. (transitive) To arrive at (a place) by effort of any kind.
    After three years, he reached the position of manager.
    The climbers reached the top of the mountain after a gruelling ten-day hike.
    • 1705-1715, George Cheyne, Philosophical Principles of Religion Natural and Revealed
      the best Accounts of the Appearances of Nature (in any single Instance how minute or simple soever) human Penetration can reach, comes infinitely short of its Reality
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 5, in The Celebrity:
      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.
  9. (transitive, figuratively) To make contact with.
    Synonyms: contact, get hold of, get in touch
    I tried to reach you all day.
  10. (transitive, figuratively) To connect with (someone) on an emotional level, making them receptive of (one); to get through to (someone).
    What will it take for me to reach him?
  11. (intransitive, India, Singapore) To arrive at a particular destination.
    • 1907, George Clifford Whitworth, Indian English: An Examination of the Errors of Idiom made by Indians in Writing English, page 122:
      The particulars that reach from Eastern Bengal require corroboration.
    • 1958, India. Ministry of Education, A Basic Grammar of Modern Hindi: English Version, page 33:
      I reached at the right time.
    • 1960, Gene Donald Overstreet, Marshall Windmiller, Communism in India, page 144:
      It should be noted that Hare Krishna Konar, an arch leftist, could not vote on the Bhupesh Gupta—S.K. Achaiya issue as he reached late.
    • 1975, India. Parliament. Public Accounts Committee, Epitome of the Reports of the Central Committee of Public Accounts from 1967-68 to 1970-71 (Fourth Lok Sabha) and of the Government Orders Thereon, page 144:
      In the event of your statement reaching later than 6th March, there will be chances of your requirement left and leading to difficulty of having to explain your excess or saving being as the case may be.
    • 2004 February 18, Mr. Free Notes, “Getting bus from KL to Singapore leaving night, likely to be any delays in arrival?”, in soc.culture.singapore, Usenet[2]:
      I suggest taking an earlier bus (say 6:00 p.m.), reaching at around midnight, then taking a taxi (might even be able to catch the last MRT) to Changi.
    • 2009, Boria Majumdar, Nalin Mehta, India and the Olympics, page 218:
      When we reached at 7.30 a.m., we saw groups of men and women bracing themselves for the day's events by writing out posters or painting placards.
    • 2012 April 26, Rakesh Chandrasekar, “Post Trek Mail II - Freshers Trek April 22nd Nagala West”, in The Chennai Trekking Club, Usenet[3]:
      Once we reached, we parked our cars beneath the trees and started trekking up the hill after a brief round of introductions.
  12. (transitive) To continue living until, or up to, a certain age.
    You can only access the inheritance money when you reach the age of 25.
  13. (obsolete) To understand; to comprehend.
  14. (obsolete) To overreach; to deceive.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of South to this entry?)
  15. To strain after something; to make (sometimes futile or pretentious) efforts.
    Reach for your dreams.
    Reach for the stars!
    • 2015, Janet S. Steinwedel, The Golden Key to Executive Coaching
      Repetitious comments are other examples of introjects that we take on as if they were truths. These include: You're lazy; you're selfish; you'll never amount to anything; you have big dreams; don't you think you're reaching a bit; try something more attainable; you were never good in math; you're not quick on your feet; you're oblivious to the world around you.
  16. (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, page 4:
      The Thembu tribe reaches back for twenty generations to King Zwide.
  17. (nautical) To sail on the wind, as from one point of tacking to another, or with the wind nearly abeam.
  18. To experience a vomiting reflex; to gag; to retch.
Thames barges reaching on the Thames; they are probably on Gravesend Reach

Usage notes[edit]

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

Derived terms[edit]

Terms derived from reach (verb)


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


reach (plural reaches)

A map of the reaches of the River Thames; it can be seen that a reach is a straightish stretch (and can therefore be sailed in one reach, one straight-line path between tacks, unless the wind is too close to head-on to allow the sailing-boat to reach)
  1. The act of stretching or extending; extension.
  2. The ability to reach or touch with the person, 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 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.
  3. The power of stretching out or extending action, influence, or the like; power of attainment or management; extent of force or capacity.
    • 1630, John Hayward, The Life and Raigne of King Edward VI
      Drawn by others who had deeper reaches than themselves to matters which they least intended.
    • 1709, [Alexander Pope], An Essay on Criticism, London: Printed for W. Lewis [], published 1711, OCLC 15810849:
      Be sure yourself and your own reach to know.
  4. Extent; stretch; expanse; hence, application; influence; result; scope.
    • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost
      And on the left hand, hell, / With long reach, interposed.
    • c. 1603–1604, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Othello, the Moore of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene iii]:
      I am to pray you not to strain my speech / To grosser issues, nor to larger reach / Than to suspicion.
    • 1999, Evan J. Mandery, The Campaign: Rudy Giuliani, Ruth Messenger, Al Sharpton, and the Race to be Mayor of New York City
      While points measure the number of times the average person in a group sees an ad, reach measures the percentage of people in a group that see an ad at least once. Increasing the reach of an ad becomes increasingly expensive as you go along (for the mathematically inclined, it is an exponential function).
  5. (informal) An exaggeration; an extension beyond evidence or normal; a stretch.
    To call George eloquent is certainly a reach.
  6. (boxing) The distance a boxer's arm can extend to land a blow.
  7. (nautical) Any point of sail in which the wind comes from the side of a vessel, excluding close-hauled.
  8. (nautical) The distance traversed between tacks.
  9. (nautical) A stretch of a watercourse which can be sailed in one reach (in the previous sense). An extended portion of water; a stretch; a straightish portion of a stream, river, or arm of the sea extending up into the land, as from one turn to another. By extension, the adjacent land.
    • December 2011, Dan Houston, Sailing a classic yacht on the Thames, Classic Boat Magazine
      Close-hauled past flats at Island Gardens opposite the old Royal Naval College at Greenwich we’d been making more than seven knots over the ground and we came close enough to touch the wall. It had felt like roller-blading – long lee-bowed boards down the reaches of this historic river. They have such great names: Bugsby’s Reach, Gallions [Reach], Fiddler’s [Reach] or the evocative Lower Hope [Reach].
    • 1849, [Alfred, Lord Tennyson], In Memoriam, London: Edward Moxon, [], published 1850, OCLC 3968433, (please specify |part=prologue or epilogue, or |canto=I to CXXIX):
      The river's wooded reach.
    • 1601, Philemon Holland, The Historie of the World, commonly called the Naturall Historie (originally by Pliny the Elder)
      the gulfe Iasius, and all the coast thereof is very full of creekes and reaches.
  10. A level stretch of a watercourse, as between rapids in a river or locks in a canal. (examples?)
  11. An extended portion or area of land or water.
    • 2002, Russell Allen, "Incantations of the Apprentice", on Symphony X, The Odyssey.
      Through eerie reach of ancient woods / Where lumbering mists arise / I journey for nines moons of the year / To where a land of legend lies
  12. (obsolete) An article to obtain an advantage.
    • 1623, Francis Bacon, A Discourse of a War with Spain
      The Duke of Parma had particular reaches and ends of his own, under hand, to cross the design.
  13. The pole or rod connecting the rear axle with the forward bolster of a wagon.
  14. An effort to vomit; a retching.

Derived terms[edit]


Terms derived from reach (noun)


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for reach in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)




From Middle High German rēch, from Old High German rēh, from Proto-West Germanic *raihō, from Proto-Germanic *raihô, *raihą (deer). Cognate with German Reh, English roe.


reach n

  1. roe deer


West Frisian[edit]


(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)


reach n (plural reagen, diminutive reachje)

  1. spiderweb

Further reading[edit]

  • reach”, in Wurdboek fan de Fryske taal (in Dutch), 2011