There are 2 main definitions of catch up in English:

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catch up 1

1Succeed 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.
1.1Do 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.
See parent entry: catch
Definition of catch up in:
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There are 2 main definitions of catch up in English:

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catch-up 2 Syllabification: catch-up
Pronunciation: /ˈkaCHˌəp/
(also catchup)


An act of catching someone up in a particular activity.
Example sentences
  • As a result, he'll be in catch-up mode at training camp - and he might be limited to one practice a day.
  • This is not a good catch-up team, going against a defense that led the league with 49 takeways.
  • In regard to his play in the secondary, Poteat has some upside potential because of his quickness and catch-up speed.


play catch-up
1Fall behind continually with work or financial matters: I’m always playing catch-up with my homework
More example sentences
  • It seems like we're always behind trying to play catch-up on the equipment nowadays it's changing so quickly.
  • And while they held all the cards previously, now they are on the back foot and continually forced to play catch-up, prompting the inevitable fall-outs and clash of personalities.
  • We can't continue to play catch-up as we've been doing in Ireland for years.
2North American Try to equal a competitor in a sport or game.
Example sentences
  • We got behind in qualifying and had to play catch-up.
  • It's imperative, however, that they don't have to play constant catch-up.
  • Wireless technology is big in Japan and Europe, and at the moment, the United States is playing a little catch-up.
Definition of catch up in:
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