• To produce patterns on a hard material, such as glass or metal, by selectively removing portions of its surface via a suitable means, such as the use of a plasma, an acid, or a laser beam. Also, to subject a material to such a process. Used, for instance, to create etched circuits.
  • That which is utilized to etch (1). Usually refers to a chemical substance, such as an acid, but may also be a plasma, a laser, an ion beam, and so on. Also called etchant.

Media Studies

  • verb to create a design or drawing on the surface of something, especially a printing plate, by the action of an acid
  • verb to cut a design or mark into the surface of something using a sharp point or laser beam


  • verb to use an acid to remove selected layers of metal from a metal printing plate leaving the printing surface untouched

Origin & History of “etch”

A line that has been etched has been literally ‘eaten’ away by acid or other corrosives. The word was borrowed from Dutch etsen, which in turn came from German ätzen ‘corrode, etch’. this can be traced back to a prehistoric Germanic *atjan ‘cause to eat, feed’, a relation of *etan ‘eat’ (from which English gets eat).