Pain or Ache? A pain is a sharp, unpleasant feeling, usually physical. ‘I have a pain in my leg.’ An ache is a dull, continuous pain. ‘I have a terrible ache in my leg.’ We also use ‘ache’ to describe emotional pain, like sorrow or sadness. ‘I still feel a terrible ache in my heart when I think of him.’ Agony is extreme, terrible pain. It can be physical or mental. ‘I was in agony for a whole week before my operation.’ Hurt is a verb and it means to cause pain or suffering. ‘Don’t squeeze so hard, you’re hurting me!’ Anguish is extreme suffering, usually mental or emotional. 'I was overcome with anguish when I lost my grandmother’s ring' .