Definition of latch in English:

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Pronunciation: /latʃ/


1A metal bar with a catch and lever used for fastening a door or gate: lifting the latch, she pushed the gate open
More example sentences
  • On large canvas slabs, he uses a thick rust-colored paint and applies objects such as antler-shaped branches, a door latch or a metal chain.
  • He put it on, swung down from the sides the cheek-guards, fastened the metal latch tightly.
  • He was holding the latch of a metal door in the side of the pipe.
fastening, catch, fastener;
clasp, hasp, hook, bar, bolt, clip;
lock, padlock, deadlock;
Scottish  sneck, snib
1.1A spring lock for an outer door, which catches when the door is closed and can only be opened from the outside with a key.
Example sentences
  • Within seconds, I had located the latch and opened the door.
  • Wasting no time I pulled on my trousers and buckled them, kicking into my shoes and grabbing my shirt and jacket when the door latch opened.
  • He fumbled for the latch to open his door, and left the limousine and the beautiful woman behind as quickly as he could.
2 Electronics A circuit which retains whatever output state results from a momentary input signal until reset by another signal.
Example sentences
  • The binding latch remains in a reset state while the battery signal is applied.
  • The compare circuit includes a holding circuitry that includes a number of latches for holding an encoded version of a memory address.
  • Sense amplifier latches are coupled to each column of memory cells.


[with object]
1Fasten (a door or gate) with a latch: she latched the door carefully
More example sentences
  • Kathryn rolled her eyes and latched the door securely.
  • Once the viewing was over, they latched the door again, in silence.
  • And he shushed her, pulling her into the house, and latching the back door.
fasten, secure, make fast, bar, bolt;
lock, padlock, deadlock;
Scottish & Irish  sneck, snib
2 [no object] Electronics (Of a device) become fixed in a particular state: the output relay can be set to latch at a preset value


on the latch

British (Of a door or gate) closed but not locked: let yourself in, the door’s on the latch
More example sentences
  • An 89-year-old woman discovered a man in her home in The Dell, Great Baddow, at 2pm, after he walked into the premises while the front door was on the latch.
  • Earlier in the evening, when the Sainsbury's order arrived, I had run down four flights of stairs to collect the groceries, putting the door to the flat on the latch.
  • Luckily the door was on the latch and I managed to stumble through and shut it behind me.

Phrasal verbs


latch on

(Of a breastfeeding baby) get its mouth into the correct position around the nipple: Jamie wasn’t latching on properly, and my nipple got sorer and sorer
More example sentences
  • This may happen if the baby is not latching on properly to your nipple.
  • Check that your baby is latching on properly to your breast - ask your midwife or health visitor if you are not sure.
  • You are led to believe that your baby will naturally latch on, and off you go on a journey of blissful feeding.

latch on to

1Attach oneself to (someone) as a constant and usually unwelcome companion: he spent the whole evening trying to latch on to my friends
More example sentences
  • He latches on to Dan one evening, all but inviting himself to the man's home for dinner.
  • As a further sub-plot, we have John meeting an Asian woman who latches on to him and takes photographs constantly - she turns out to be an art student, and takes John clubbing, along with her student pals.
  • She gathers her things and leaves the hospital, followed by the Doctor, who in his confused state latches on to someone he recognizes.
1.1Take up (an idea or trend) enthusiastically: the newspapers latched on to the idea of healthy eating
More example sentences
  • Frustrated by the lack of quick progress on the ground and fading political support at home, Washington is now latching on to the idea that a quick transfer of power to local troops and politicians would make things better.
  • While latching on to the up-country trend, the industry here found itself wrong-footed and woefully short of male dancing talents.
  • By making the states' rights argument, the Republicans had finally latched on to an idea that resonated with conservatives in the South.
1.2British (Of a football or rugby player) take advantage of (another player’s move) when attacking: Nevin latched on to a miscued header to smash home the winning goal
More example sentences
  • The equaliser followed a great passing move, Jonny Greenwood latching on to a through ball from midfield and firing home.
  • Ludovic Giuly beats John Terry for pace and tries to latch on to a long ball played from the back.
  • Just before half-time Arthur Tegemeier pulled a goal back for New Earswick and five minutes into the second half the same player equalised after latching on to a through ball.
1.3(Of one substance) cohere with (another): the DNA chain latches on to its counterpart
More example sentences
  • Each of these groups of molecules contains a unique fatty acid group and a peptidic head group that latches on to iron ions.
  • Some contain a strip of adhesive amino acids that latch on to their cognate sequences like Velcro.
  • These are specialized molecules that can latch on to antigens and help the rest of the immune system eliminate the foreign particle.
2Understand the meaning of (something): [with clause]: she’ll soon latch on to what is happening
More example sentences
  • But hoaxers soon latched on to his story and have been using his name or variations of it ever since to con people into sending them their details.
  • Pupils soon latch on to this, and the spiral of decline suddenly becomes much steeper.
  • Anyone who works or has worked in an office environment will latch on to at least some of what the programme is all about.


Old English læccan 'take hold of, grasp (physically or mentally'), of Germanic origin.

Words that rhyme with latch

attach, batch, catch, crosshatch, detach, hatch, match, mismatch, natch, outmatch, patch, scratch, thatch

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: latch

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