catch (kăch, kĕch)
v. caught (kôt), catch·ing, catch·es
a. To get and hold (something that has been in motion) in a hand, the hands, a container, or an implement: caught the ball in the web of the lacrosse stick.
b. To take hold of, especially forcibly or suddenly; grasp: caught me by the arm; caught the reins.
c. To stop (oneself) from doing an action: I caught myself before replying.
a. To capture or seize, especially after a chase: The police caught the robber in the next town.
b. To capture or take by trapping, snaring, or some other means: I caught three fish with that lure.
c. To take in and hold or contain: a pond that catches runoff.
a. To discover or come upon suddenly, unexpectedly, or accidentally: He was caught in the act of stealing.
b. To become cognizant or aware of suddenly: caught her gazing out the window.
a. To reach just in time; get so as to be carried by: caught the bus to town; catch a wave.
b. To overtake: The driver of the green car caught the leader on the straightaway.
a. To cause to become hooked, entangled, or fastened: caught my hem on the stair.
b. To hold up; delay: was caught in traffic for an hour.
a. To make contact with; strike: The boxer caught his opponent with a left hook.
b. To propel an object so that it hits (something): The center caught the back of the net with a hard shot.
a. To become subject to or to contract, as by exposure to a pathogen: catch a cold.
b. To become affected by or infused with: caught the joyous mood of the festival.
c. To suffer from the receipt of (criticism, for example): caught hell for being late.
a. To perceive suddenly or momentarily: We caught a glimpse of the movie star. I caught a whiff of her perfume.
b. To hear or listen to: caught the news bulletin on the radio; didn't catch the end of your sentence
c. To grasp mentally; apprehend: I don't catch your meaning.
a. To go to see (a performance, for example): caught the midnight show.
b. To get (something required), usually quickly or for a brief period: catch some sleep.
a. To attract and fix; arrest: couldn't catch their attention; caught the teacher's eye.
b. To reproduce or represent effectively: an impressionist who caught the effects of wind and water in his paintings.
11. To deceive: failed to be caught by their fraudulent schemes.
12. Baseball To play (a game) as catcher.
1. To become held, entangled, or fastened: My coat caught in the car door.
2. To act or move so as to hold or grab someone or something: tried to catch at the life preserver.
3. To be communicable or infectious; spread.
4. To become ignited: The fire caught.
5. Baseball To act as catcher.
a. The act of catching, especially the grabbing and holding of a thrown, kicked, or batted ball before it hits the ground.
b. A game of throwing and catching a ball.
a. A quantity that is caught: The catch amounted to 50 fish.
b. Something that is perceived or noticed: The mistake you found was a good catch.
c. Informal A person considered to be an attractive or admirable romantic partner.
3. A tricky or previously unsuspected condition or drawback: It sounds like a good offer, but there may be a catch.
4. A device for fastening something or for checking motion: The car's hood has a safety catch.
5. A choking or stoppage of the breath or voice: a catch in his voice.
6. A snatch; a fragment: could only hear catches of the song.
7. Music A canonic, often rhythmically intricate composition for three or more voices, popular especially in the 17th and 18th centuries.
1. To understand something: These students catch on quickly.
2. To become popular: Skateboarding caught on quickly.
To detect (another) in wrongdoing or error.
1. To move fast enough to attain the same progress as another; draw even: caught up to the leader on the last lap of the race.
2. To become equal or on a par with another: finally caught up with his brother in height.
3. To bring an activity to completion or to a state of currentness: catch up on correspondence.
4. To bring (another) up to date; brief: Let me catch you up on all the gossip.
5. To seize or lift suddenly: The wind caught up the umbrella and carried it off.
6. To involve, often unwillingly: was caught up in the scandal.
7. To captivate; enthrall: I was caught up in the mood of the evening.
1. To ignite.
2. To become very enthusiastic.
3. To become the subject of great interest and widespread enthusiasm: an idea that caught fire all over the country.
catch it Informal
To receive a punishment or scolding.
catch (one's) breath
To rest so as to be able to continue an activity.
catch (one's) death
To catch a cold or other illness.
catch up with
1. To find or arrest after a period of pursuit: The police finally caught up with him in Omaha.
2. To have unpleasant consequences for, especially after a period of quiescence: mistakes that caught up with him when he ran for president.
catch you later
Informal Used to express good-bye.
[Middle English cacchen, from Old North French cachier, to chase, from Vulgar Latin *captiāre; see CHASE1.]
Synonyms: catch, enmesh, ensnare, entangle, entrap, snare1, trap1
These verbs mean to take in and hold as if by using bait or a lure: caught in a web of lies; enmeshed in the dispute; ensnared an unsuspecting customer; became entangled in her own contradictions; entrapped by a convincing undercover agent; snared by false hopes; trapped into incriminating himself.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.