There are 2 main definitions of catch in English:

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catch1

Syllabification: catch
Pronunciation: /kaCH
 
, keCH
 
/

verb (pastand past participle caught /kôt/)

[with object]
1Intercept and hold (something that has been thrown, propelled, or dropped): she threw the bottle into the air and caught it again
More example sentences
  • He tossed both knives into the air and caught them before dropping into a crouch like his brother.
  • Every time there's even a semblance of running water, we put something under the faucet to catch the precious drops.
  • There were always pots across one wall of her sitting room to catch the drops.
1.1Intercept the fall of (someone).
Example sentences
  • As she pitched forward, about to fall, someone caught her by her upper arms.
  • How many times do you have to fall before someone catches you and stays around?
  • He rushed forward towards the princess and caught her as she fell from her horse.
1.2Seize or take hold of: he caught hold of her arm as she tried to push past him
More example sentences
  • She caught hold of the boy's collar and dragged him, pushing him into his bed.
  • Jack caught hold of her arm and pulled her back to stand in front of him.
  • I thought my worst fears had come true when someone just caught hold of my hand.
1.3 [no object] (catch at) Grasp or try to grasp: his hands caught at her arms as she tried to turn away
More example sentences
  • Abby caught at his arm, and he started to push her away, then stopped himself.
  • As he made to move off in search of new bandages, she weakly caught at his arm.
  • Automatically, his own hands rose to catch at his master's arm.
2Capture (a person or animal that tries or would try to escape): we hadn’t caught a single rabbit
More example sentences
  • The Welsh terrier is a rough-coated animal with droopy ears, originally bred in Wales to catch rats, mice and other vermin.
  • It always seemed to me that it was pretty rare for the hunt actually to catch a fox.
  • Traps of this kind, which are designed to catch foxes and rabbits, have been outlawed since 1954 when the Pest Act came into force.
Synonyms
capture, seize;
apprehend, arrest, take prisoner/captive, take into custody;
net, hook, land
informal nab, collar, run in, bust
2.1 [no object] (Of an object) accidentally become entangled or trapped in something: the charm bracelet always caught on her clothing
More example sentences
  • The hem of her pants caught under her shoes and she toppled toward, taking the boy with her.
  • Then the toe of your shoe catches in a crack in the sidewalk and you stumble forward, but quickly regain your balance, trying to keep you dignity intact.
  • ‘I'm sorry,’ she said, coming so hastily to her feet her heel caught in her skirt and she lurched forward.
2.2(Of a person) have (a part of one’s body or clothing) become entangled or trapped in something: she caught her foot in the bedspread figurative companies face increased risks of being caught in a downward spiral
More example sentences
  • She chased him through the security gates and nearly caught her flowing skirt in the elevator.
  • I once caught a scarf in a lift door as it closed and only just managed to heave it free and save myself from a gruesome end.
  • Boys, nay men, need to remember to wipe the toothpaste from the corners of their mouth, the crumbs from their beards and not to catch their shirts in their flies.
Synonyms
become trapped, become entangled, snag
2.3Fix or fasten in place: her hair was caught back in a scrunchie
More example sentences
  • I raise my hand to smooth my hair back, catch some of it over my ear, but when I carry my hand near my hair it crackles and dances away in the dry wind.
  • Her hair was caught back in a great net of silver, also dotted with diamonds.
3Reach in time and board (a train, bus, or aircraft): they caught the 12:15 from Chicago
More example sentences
  • It is not as if you can catch a bus or train, or hail a cab to go anywhere.
  • I alighted from the train at Huddersfield and caught a bus to New Mill.
  • Then I had to catch a bus, then a train, and walk quite a way to the house.
Synonyms
be in time for, make, get;
board, get on, step aboard
3.1Reach or be in a place in time to see (a person, performance, program, etc.): she was hurrying downstairs to catch the news
More example sentences
  • I don't usually watch a lot of local TV but happened to catch a programme last night about a farm with a herd of buffaloes.
  • I've just caught the end of a brief TV programme about Sonia Lo, co-founder of A Recipe for Peace.
  • I had caught the tail end of his performance - enough to give me but a small idea of the man.
3.2Come upon (someone) unexpectedly: unexpected snow caught us by surprise
More example sentences
  • The unexpected attack caught him off guard and he landed on the porch with a thud.
  • The bike was powerful - far more so than he had expected - and the unexpected force caught him off guard.
  • Timms' move was so sudden, so unexpected, that it caught the woman completely by surprise.
3.3 (be caught in) (Of a person) unexpectedly find oneself in (an unwelcome situation): my sister was caught in a thunderstorm
More example sentences
  • Speaking yesterday, Mr Ferguson said the law needed to be changed before anyone else was caught in the same situation.
  • But there was always the danger that he would be caught in situations he could not easily explain.
  • Would taxpayers have relief when faced with the situation of being caught in circumstances beyond their control?
3.4 (catch it) informal Be punished or told off.
Example sentences
  • It's because somewhere, they broke a rule they didn't know about and caught hell for it.
  • Everything I did in life that was worthwhile I caught hell for.
  • Dave already has caught hell, and lots of it.
3.5Surprise (someone) in an incriminating situation or in the act of doing something wrong: he was caught with bomb-making equipment in his home
More example sentences
  • To their surprise they caught him with a soldier on Hampstead Heath.
  • Do not be taken by surprise if you are caught for speeding or riding without helmets this week.
  • Funnily enough, I was almost caught in a compromising situation earlier by one of the engineers.
Synonyms
discover, find, come upon/across, stumble on, chance on;
surprise, catch red-handed, catch in the act
4Engage (a person’s interest or imagination).
Example sentences
  • The scheme has already caught the imagination and interest of local school children.
  • I hope this scheme will catch the imagination of the public and we shall be exploring the opportunities for investment from the private sector.
  • The next venture was a jumble-sale which caught the imagination of so many and began the fund-raising in earnest.
Synonyms
engage, capture, attract, draw, grab, grip, seize;
hold, absorb, engross
4.1Perceive fleetingly: she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror
More example sentences
  • He even caught a glimpse of some movement out of the corner of his eye.
  • I caught a glimpse of a clock and it read about two ten in the morning.
  • I still recall one Sunday morning when I caught a glimpse of them outside.
Synonyms
4.2Hear or understand (something said), especially with effort: he bellowed something Jess couldn’t catch
More example sentences
  • ‘Be quiet, everyone,’ he said as he caught the drift of what was coming out of the juke box.
  • Our hyper friendly waiter must have caught the drift of our chatter about geese and pigs, and soon joined in.
  • But it was an effort for him to talk, his voice so low that I could not always catch what he said, and sometimes he would collapse back on to the bed trying to hide his exasperation.
Synonyms
hear, perceive, discern, make out;
informal get, get the drift of, figure out
4.3Succeed in evoking or representing: the program caught something of the flavor of Minoan culture
More example sentences
  • He explores the space, catches its relationship and represents it in various forms.
  • It really catches the feel of Dave's work.
  • His mastery was in describing exciting events and in catching the flavor of the moment.
Synonyms
evoke, conjure up, call to mind, recall, encapsulate, capture
5 [with object] Strike (someone) on a part of the body: Ben caught him on the chin with an uppercut
More example sentences
  • The perspex side caught me a nasty blow (as they say) on the forehead and the forearm.
  • The blow that caught me around the ears knocked me to the floor.
  • The informant's blow caught him full force in the chest causing him to curse into the gag.
Synonyms
hit, strike, slap, smack, bang
5.1Accidentally strike (a part of one’s body) against something: she fell and caught her head on the corner of the hearth
More example sentences
  • As he fell he caught his head on the edge of the bay dock leveller.
  • I pictured a back-handed blow, a woman slumping, catching her head on a hard surface.
  • I caught my leg on the corner of a little metal bench and I really started to bleed.
6Contract (an illness) through infection or contagion.
Example sentences
  • It damages unborn babies, and may cause miscarriage if the mother catches the disease while pregnant.
  • A child with TB may have to stay in the hospital so others do not catch the infection.
  • At this time it is not clear if the female nurse caught the disease from the patient, or through other sources.
Synonyms
become infected with, contract, get, fall ill with, be taken ill with, develop, come down with, be struck down with
7 [no object] Become ignited, due to contact with flame, and start burning: the rafters have caught
More example sentences
  • The flame catches and burns the empty paper to an ash.
  • The house caught and burned completely to the ground.
  • The wood caught, but it burned feebly.
Synonyms
ignite, start burning, catch fire, kindle
7.1(Of an engine) fire and start running.
Example sentences
  • With a sudden jolt, the primary engines caught and the ship sped skywards on a comet of light.
  • He turned the car on, waiting for the engine to catch for a minute.
  • The first two Toyota pickups we got into wouldn't start, even with eight men rocking them to get the engine to catch.

noun

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1An act of catching something, typically a ball.
Example sentences
  • I saw myself fumbling easy catches and looking clumsy.
  • In the 37th minute, the scoring lapse was broken in some style as Conor Phelan made a magnificent catch before sending the ball between the posts.
  • The last thing you want to do is lose the ball after a good catch.
1.1An amount of fish caught: a record catch of 6.9 billion pounds of fish
More example sentences
  • The beaches of East Anglia maybe can't produce the numbers of cod they once did, but there are still good catches taken and big fish caught.
  • At home catches of white fish have been poor over the last couple of weeks.
  • Some stretches are very well stocked and if you're on fish, multiple catches are common.
Synonyms
haul, net, bag, yield
1.2 [in singular] informal A person considered attractive, successful, or prestigious and so desirable as a partner or spouse: I mistakenly thought he would be a good catch
More example sentences
  • It is, in part, this ease that makes you a catch for potential partners.
  • The Shopkeeper was aware that Carl would be considered a good catch for any girl in town.
  • If you focus on lifestyle issues, in other words, what you wear, where you live, how much of a catch your partner is, etc, you will turn the control of how you are judged over to other people.
2A device for securing something such as a door, window, or box: the window catch was rusty
More example sentences
  • At present ventilation windows on carriages are secured by two catches spaced about a metre apart.
  • An inquest held at Flax Bourton Coroner's Court in Bristol heard part of the window catch was broken, meaning it could be pushed open at any time.
  • The catch snapped and the window released slightly.
Synonyms
3A hidden problem or disadvantage in an apparently ideal situation: there’s a catch in it somewhere
More example sentences
  • The hidden catch here is that in this case, this rule was violated.
  • At The Bull Hotel on Tuesday, the programme makers reassured residents there were no hidden catches.
  • The girl looked up at her, too satisfied to care if there were any kind of hidden catches.
Synonyms
4 [in singular] An unevenness in a person’s voice caused by emotion: there was a catch in Anne’s voice
More example sentences
  • ‘You can wake me up now,’ she said with a slight catch in her voice.
  • Sherringham sounded only slightly winded, though there was a catch to his voice.
  • Sinjun didn't fail to notice the slight catch in her voice.
5 Music A round, typically one with words arranged to produce a humorous effect.
Example sentences
  • The catch, a particular form of round based on word-play, was especially popular in Restoration England.
  • The catch was one of the most popular forms of song from the mid-Sixteenth through the late-nineteenth centuries.
  • The best catches combine magnificent musical composition with intricate and inventive poetry.

Origin

Middle English (also in the sense 'chase'): from Anglo-Norman French and Old Northern French cachier, variant of Old French chacier, based on Latin captare 'try to catch', from capere 'take'.

Phrases

catch someone napping

1
see nap1.

be caught short

2
see short.

catch at straws

3
see straw.

catch one's breath

4
see breath.
Example sentences
  • She caught her breath as the figure picked up the torch she had laid on the edge of the hearth.
  • What the breath coach did observe was that Jake caught his breath and clammed up, then became anxious.
  • These are the moments when we catch our breath and glimpse the presence of the Divine.

catch one's death (of cold)

5
see death.

catch someone's eye

6
1Be noticed by someone: a vase on a side table caught his eye
More example sentences
  • It was the notice about the Italian Cookery School that caught my eye.
  • Hop on and off all day long, stopping to see the attractions that catch your eye.
  • In addition to his general argument I'd draw attention to two other stories that caught my eye.
2Attract someone’s attention by making eye contact: I caught Rhoda’s eye and gave her a friendly wave
More example sentences
  • Floyd caught my eye for a moment and winked before turning his attention back to Katie.
  • My friend and I had a very attentive waiter who replenished our drinks as soon as we caught his eye.
  • I caught Milton 's eye again, and he was grinning ear to ear.

catch fire

7
Become ignited and burn.

catch someone in the act

8
see act.

catch the light

9
Shine or glint in the light.
Example sentences
  • Her spectacles caught the light from somewhere and glimmered under the straight blonde of her hair.
  • When she turned away, her earrings caught the light.
  • Try a healthy dose of illumination for your eyes with discreet, shimmery pigments that catch the light and radiate a heart-stopping, soft glow.

catch sight of

10
Suddenly notice; glimpse.
Example sentences
  • On the second floor, walking passed a group of unruly grade eights, I caught sight of soft blonde hair.
  • For the first time in ages I caught sight of The Independent.
  • She threw some cereal in her mouth then caught sight of the seriousness of the moment.

you wouldn't catch —— doing something

11
informal Used to indicate that there is no possibility of the person mentioned doing what is specified: you wouldn’t catch me walking back to the house alone at night
More example sentences
  • While you wouldn't catch me, or I'd imagine, most sane people, driving a vehicle out onto a frozen lake, it's fun to watch the people ice fishing, being pulled on skis or just taking a leisurely stroll.
  • I wonder if the people look down on us queuing up and laugh, thinking you wouldn't catch me in a car.
  • Well, you wouldn't catch me behind the stick of one of those things.

Phrasal verbs

catch on

1
informal
1(Of a practice or fashion) become popular: his music never caught on in the South
More example sentences
  • If the practice catches on, however, I would like to see it broadened to include more misunderstood groups.
  • Australia's geographic isolation plays a big part in why the practice has caught on.
  • It was not until 1900 that soccer became popular in France, catching on in the industrial towns of northern France, but the average gate rarely rose above a thousand.
Synonyms
become popular, become fashionable, take off, boom, flourish, thrive
2Understand what is meant or how to do something: I caught on to what it was the guy was saying
More example sentences
  • Yet his principles did not let him stay in Berlin once the censors caught on to his tricks.
  • Maybe this is a case where Hollywood has actually caught on to the value of free content.
  • He bent his head down and began kissing my neck and I finally caught on to what he was about to do.
Synonyms
understand, comprehend, learn, see the light

catch up

2
Succeed in reaching a person who is ahead of one.
Example sentences
  • He says the people of Poland must work hard because they have a struggle ahead to catch the other countries of the West.
  • You don't want them looking at the table and thinking: Chelsea are too far ahead for us to catch them.
  • However, once he got to third, Harvey and Templeman were just too far ahead for Westbrook to catch them.
2.1Do work or other tasks that one should have done earlier: he normally used the afternoons to catch up on paperwork
More example sentences
  • Oh, and there's a backlog of domestic and business stuff to catch up on.
  • I like having the place to myself, though I have a bunch of housework to catch up on.
  • Public holidays are when I catch up on household chores and visit my ailing parents.

catch up with

3
1Succeed in reaching a person who is ahead of one: you go with Stasia and Katie, and I’ll catch up with you
More example sentences
  • I shook my head slightly at those thoughts and jogged a little faster, catching up with Matt and Liz ahead.
  • They had actually reached the car when he caught up with them.
  • There were policemen running after him, but it was clear just by the photo that they had no chance of catching up with them.
2Talk to (someone) whom one has not seen for some time in order to find out what he or she has been doing in the interim: a chance to catch up with old friends
More example sentences
  • Two female former schoolmates whom I caught up with two weeks ago also found themselves single recently.
  • Like all these things, it was a good chance to catch up with old friends!
  • Pat said the evening was a chance to catch up with old friends and was thoroughly enjoyable.
3Begin to have a damaging effect on: the physical exertions began to catch up with Sue
More example sentences
  • They began sparring again, but Kristy soon found that her lack of proper amounts of sleep was beginning to catch up with her.
  • All these days and nights without sleep were beginning to catch up with him.
  • My patient's unhealthy lifestyle began to catch up with him peripheral vascular disease, a stroke, and then angina.

be/get caught up in

4
Become involved in (something that one had not intended to become involved in): he had no desire to be caught up in political activities
More example sentences
  • The Christmas shopping phenomena has begun and I really do not want to get caught up in that again.
  • Any of us could have been in the shops on the street on Friday and been caught up in what happened.
  • Did I intend to get caught up in some weird drama with a bunch of people I don't know?

Derivatives

catchable

1
adjective
Example sentences
  • There are over one million catchable trout in Lake Taupo.
  • Of 99 passes charted against the Giants, Bears and Vikings, 85 were accurate, catchable throws.
  • Smith has excellent hands and rarely misses a catchable ball.

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There are 2 main definitions of catch in English:

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catch-222

Syllabification: catch-22

noun

A dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions: [as modifier]: a catch-22 situation
More example sentences
  • There's always been a bit of a catch 22 about golf - you need to have a handicap to join a club, yet it's very difficult to get that handicap in a civilised way without spending hours on a rain sodden driving range in some murky British suburb.
  • It is a catch-22 situation - without any big stars, the game is always going to have a low profile. But as long as it is low profile, it will struggle to produce big stars.
  • Are we in a catch 22 when in comes to leading a green lifestyle?
Synonyms
dilemma, quandary, vicious circle;
catch;
chicken-and-egg problem

Origin

1970s: title of a novel by Joseph Heller (1961), in which the main character feigns madness in order to avoid dangerous combat missions, but his desire to avoid them is taken to prove his sanity.

Definition of catch in:

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