verb (used with object)
- to get to or get as far as in moving, going, traveling, etc.: The boat reached the shore.
- to come to or arrive at in some course of progress, action, etc.: Your letter never reached me.
- to succeed in touching or seizing with an outstretched hand, a pole, etc.: to reach a book on a high shelf.
- to stretch or hold out; extend: reaching out a hand in greeting.
- to stretch or extend so as to touch or meet: The bookcase reaches the ceiling.
- to establish communication with: I called but couldn’t reach you.
- to amount to, as in the sum or total: The cost will reach millions.
- to penetrate to: distant stars the eye cannot reach.
- to succeed in striking or hitting, as with a weapon or missile: The artillery fire reached the shore.
- to succeed in making contact with, influencing, impressing, interesting, convincing, etc.: a program that reached a large teenage audience.
verb (used without object)
- to make a stretch, as with the hand or arm.
- to become outstretched, as the hand or arm.
- to make a movement or effort as if to touch or seize something: to reach for a weapon.
- to extend in operation or effect: power that reaches throughout the land.
- to stretch in space; extend in direction, length, distance, etc.: a coat reaching to the knee; a tower reaching to the skies.
- to extend or continue in time.
- to get or come to a specified place, person, condition, etc. (often followed by to).
- to amount (often followed by to): sums reaching to a considerable total.
- to penetrate: Fields of flowers extended as far as the eye could reach.
- to assert or agree without certainty or sufficient evidence; infer hastily: I’d be reaching if I said I had the answer to your question.
- to sail on a reach.
- to sail with the wind forward of the beam but so as not to require sailing close-hauled.
- an act or instance of reaching: to make a reach for a gun.
- the extent or distance of reaching: within reach of his voice.
- range of effective action, power, or capacity.
- a continuous stretch or extent of something: a reach of woodland.
- Also called pound. a level portion of a canal, between locks.
- Nautical. a point of sailing in which the wind is within a few points of the beam, either forward of the beam (close reach), directly abeam (beam reach), or abaft the beam (broad reach).
- the pole connecting the rear axle of a wagon to the transverse bar or bolster over the front axle supporting the wagon bed.
- a straight portion of a river between two bends.
- (tr) to arrive at or get to (a place, person, etc) in the course of movement or actionto reach the office
- to extend as far as (a point or place)to reach the ceiling; can you reach?
- (tr) to come to (a certain condition, stage, or situation)to reach the point of starvation
- (intr) to extend in influence or operationthe Roman conquest reached throughout England
- (tr) informal to pass or give (something to a person) with the outstretched handto reach someone a book
- (intr ; foll by out, for, or after) to make a movement (towards), as if to grasp or touchto reach for something on a shelf
- (intr ; foll by for or after) to strive or yearnto reach for the impossible
- (tr) to make contact or communication with (someone)we tried to reach him all day
- (tr) to strike, esp in fencing or boxing
- (tr) to amount to (a certain sum)to reach the five million mark
- (intr) nautical to sail on a tack with the wind on or near abeam
- the act of reaching
- the extent or distance of reachingwithin reach of safety; beyond her reach
- the range of influence, power, jurisdiction, etc
- an open stretch of water, esp on a river
- nautical the direction or distance sailed by a vessel on one tack
- a bar on the rear axle of a vehicle connecting it with some part at the front end
- television radio the percentage of the population selecting a broadcast programme or channel for more than a specified time during a day or week
- marketing the proportion of a market that an advertiser hopes to reach at least once in a campaign
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.
Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,[Browning, “Andrea del Sarto”]
Or what’s a heaven for?
Old English ræcan, reccan “reach out, stretch out, extend, hold forth,” also “succeed in touching, succeed in striking; address, speak to,” also “offer, present, give, grant,” from West Germanic *raikjan “stretch out the hand” (cf. Old Frisian reka, Middle Dutch reiken, Dutch reiken, Old High German and German reichen), from Proto-Germanic *raikijanau, perhaps from PIE root *reig- “to stretch out” (cf. Sanskrit rjyati “he stretches himself,” riag “torture” (by racking); Greek oregein “to reach, extend;” Lithuanian raižius “to stretch oneself;” Old Irish rigim “I stretch”).
Shakespeare uses the now-obsolete past tense form raught (Old English ræhte). Meaning “arrive at” is early 14c.; that of “succeed in influencing” is from 1660s. Related: Reached; reaching. Reach-me-down “ready-made” (of clothes) is recorded from 1862, from notion of being on the rack in a finished state.
In addition to the idiom beginning with reach
- reach for the sky
- boardinghouse reach
- get to (reach) first base
- in reach