English Phrases : Ache and Pain
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What is the difference between Ache and Pain?
By Mrs. Sybille, Canada - 30th June-2007
Headache, stomachache, body ache, earache and toothaches are some of the aches we have all experienced some time or the other. As the names suggest, the term ache is normally associated with some part of one's body. It is usually used to refer to any discomfort that is localized, which is not temporary, but long lasting. Most dictionaries define an ache as continuous, dull pain. In other words, an ache is not as acute as pain. The latter tends to be much more severe than ache. Pain is a general term. It can refer to discomforts of short or long duration.
Both words have a figurative meaning as well. They are often used to refer to mental or spiritual suffering. For example, one can talk about the pain of separation and the ache of loneliness. When your girlfriend or boyfriend ditches you, you may complain of heartache. Your friends will feel sorry for you and will try to cheer you up. They will not take your ache seriously. If, on the other hand, you complain of having chest pain, the same friends will take you very seriously and rush you to the hospital. My children tell me that I am a pain in their neck and my neighbors think I am a headache. Who do you think dislikes me more?