reach (v.)

Middle English rēchen, from Old English ræcan, reccan "to reach out, stretch or extend outward, hold forth, extend in continuity or scope," also "to succeed in touching, succeed in striking;" also "to address, speak to," also "to offer, present, give, grant."

This is proposed to be from Proto-West Germanic *raikejanan "stretch out the hand" (source also of Old Frisian reka "to give, pay," Middle Dutch reken, reiken, Old High German reihhen, reichen "give, reach out, get," Dutch reiken,  German reichen "to reach, to pass, to hand, to give; to be sufficient"), from Proto-Germanic *raikijanau, which is probably from PIE root *reig- "to stretch, stretch out, be stretched; be stiff."

Sometimes 16c. spelled retch. As "to hand (someone something), give" from c. 1300. The meaning "arrive at, succeed in getting to" is early 14c.; that of "succeed in influencing" is from 1660s. Related: Reached; reaching. Shakespeare uses the now-obsolete past tense form raught (Old English ræhte).

Colloquial reach-me-down "ready-made" (of clothes) is recorded from 1862, from notion of being on the rack in a finished state.

reach (n.)

"continuous stretch or course," 1520s, from reach (v.); earliest use is of stretches of water. Meaning "extent of reaching" is from 1540s; that of "act of reaching" is from 1560s; that of "limit or scope of extension" is from 1570s. To be out of (one's) reach "unattainable" is by 1690s.

Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?
[Browning, "Andrea del Sarto"]

updated on July 26, 2021

Definitions of reach from WordNet
reach (v.)
reach a destination, either real or abstract;
The water reached the doorstep
Synonyms: make / attain / hit / arrive at / gain
reach (v.)
reach a point in time, or a certain state or level;
This car can reach a speed of 140 miles per hour
Synonyms: hit / attain
reach (v.)
move forward or upward in order to touch; also in a metaphorical sense;
Government reaches out to the people
Synonyms: reach out
reach (v.)
be in or establish communication with;
Our advertisements reach millions
Synonyms: get through / get hold of / contact
reach (v.)
to gain with effort;
Synonyms: achieve / accomplish / attain
reach (v.)
to extend as far as;
Can he reach?
The sunlight reached the wall
Synonyms: extend to / touch
reach (v.)
reach a goal;
Synonyms: make / get to / progress to
reach (v.)
place into the hands or custody of;
Synonyms: pass / hand / pass on / turn over / give
reach (v.)
to exert much effort or energy;
Synonyms: strive / strain
reach (n.)
the limits within which something can be effective;
he was beyond the reach of their fire
Synonyms: range
reach (n.)
an area in which something acts or operates or has power or control: "the range of a supersonic jet";
outside the reach of the law
Synonyms: scope / range / orbit / compass / ambit
reach (n.)
the act of physically reaching or thrusting out;
Synonyms: reaching / stretch
reach (n.)
the limit of capability;
Synonyms: compass / range / grasp
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