From Middle English cacchen, from Anglo-Norman cachier, from Late Latin captiāre, present active infinitive of captiō, from Latin captō, frequentative of capiō. Akin to Modern French chasser (from Old French chacier) and Spanish cazar, and thus a doublet of chase. Displaced Middle English fangen ("to catch"; > Modern English fang (verb)), from Old English fōn (“to seize, take”); Middle English lacchen ("to catch"; > Modern English latch), from Old English læċċan.
The verb became irregular, possibly under the influence of the semantically similar latch (from Old English læċċan) whose past tense was lahte, lauhte, laught (Old English læhte) until becoming regularised in Modern English.
Noah Webster's American Dictionary (1828) regards /kɛtʃ/ as the "popular or common pronunciation." It is labeled "not infreq[uent]" in Kenyon & Knott (1949).
catch (countable and uncountable, plural catches)
- (countable) The act of seizing or capturing. syn.
- The catch of the perpetrator was the product of a year of police work.
- (countable) The act of catching an object in motion, especially a ball. syn. transl.
- The player made an impressive catch.
- Nice catch!
- (countable) The act of noticing, understanding or hearing. syn. transl.
- Good catch. I never would have remembered that.
- (uncountable) The game of catching a ball. transl.
- The kids love to play catch.
- (countable) A find, in particular a boyfriend or girlfriend or prospective spouse. syn. transl.
- Did you see his latest catch?
- He's a good catch.
- (countable) Something which is captured or caught. transl. syn.
- The fishermen took pictures of their catch.
- The catch amounted to five tons of swordfish.
- (countable) A stopping mechanism, especially a clasp which stops something from opening. syn. transl.
- She installed a sturdy catch to keep her cabinets closed tight.
- (countable) A hesitation in voice, caused by strong emotion.
- There was a catch in his voice when he spoke his father's name.
- (countable, sometimes noun adjunct) A concealed difficulty, especially in a deal or negotiation.
- It sounds like a great idea, but what's the catch?
- Be careful, that's a catch question.
- (countable) A crick; a sudden muscle pain during unaccustomed positioning when the muscle is in use.
- I bent over to see under the table and got a catch in my side.
- (countable) A fragment of music or poetry. syn.
1852, Mrs M.A. Thompson, “The Tutor's Daughter”, in Graham's American Monthly Magazine of Literature, Art, and Fashion, page 266:
- In the lightness of my heart I sang catches of songs as my horse gayly bore me along the well-remembered road.
- (obsolete) A state of readiness to capture or seize; an ambush.
- T. Fuller
- The common and the canon law […] lie at catch, and wait advantages one against another.
- (countable, agriculture) A crop which has germinated and begun to grow.
1905, Eighth Biennial Report of the Board of Horticulture of the State of Oregon, page 204:
- There was a good catch of rye and a good fall growth.
- (obsolete) A type of strong boat, usually having two masts; a ketch.
- 1612, John Smith, Map of Virginia, in Kupperman 1988, page 158:
- Fourteene miles Northward from the river Powhatan, is the river Pamaunke, which is navigable 60 or 70 myles, but with Catches and small Barkes 30 or 40 myles farther.
- (countable, music) A type of humorous round in which the voices gradually catch up with one another; usually sung by men and often having bawdy lyrics.
- 1610, The Tempest, by Shakespeare, act 3 scene 2
- Let us be jocund: will you troll the catch / You taught me but while-ere?
1966, Allen Tate, T. S. Eliot: The Man and His Work, page 76:
- One night, I remember, we sang a catch, written (words and music) by Orlo Williams, for three voices.
- (countable, music) The refrain; a line or lines of a song which are repeated from verse to verse. syn.
2003, Robert Hugh Benson, Come Rack! Come Rope!, page 268:
- The phrase repeated itself like the catch of a song.
- (countable, cricket, baseball) The act of catching a hit ball before it reaches the ground, resulting in an out.
1997, May 10, “Henry Blofeld”, in Cricket: Rose and Burns revive Somerset:
- It was he who removed Peter Bowler with the help of a good catch at third slip.
- (countable, cricket) A player in respect of his catching ability; particularly one who catches well.
1894, September 16, To Meet Lord Hawke's Team, page 21:
- […] in the field he is all activity, covers an immense amount of ground, and is a sure catch.
- (countable, rowing) The first contact of an oar with the water.
1935, June 7, “Robert F. Kelley”, in California Crews Impress at Debut, page 29:
- They are sitting up straighter, breaking their arms at the catch and getting on a terrific amount of power at the catch with each stroke.
- (countable, phonetics) A stoppage of breath, resembling a slight cough.
2006, Mitsugu Sakihara et al., Okinawan-English Wordbook, ISBN 0824831020:
- The glottal stop or glottal catch is the sound used in English in the informal words uh-huh 'yes' and uh-uh 'no'.
- Passing opportunities seized; snatches.
- John Locke
- It has been writ by catches with many intervals.
- A slight remembrance; a trace.
- We retain a catch of those pretty stories.
- (act of capturing def.): seizure, capture, collar, snatch
- (catching a ball def. transl.): grasp, snatch
- (act of noticing def. transl.): observation
- (a find def. transl.): prize, find; conquest, beau
- (quantity captured def.): haul, take
- (stopping mechanism def. transl.): stop, chock; clasp, latch
- snag, problem; trick, gimmick, hitch
- (fragment of music def.): snatch, fragment; snippet, bit
- (refrain def.): chorus, refrain, burden
the act of catching a ball
a find, in particular a boyfriend/girlfriend
a clasp which stops something from opening
that which is captured or caught
the act of noticing, understanding or hearing
the game of catching a ball
catch (third-person singular simple present catches, present participle catching, simple past and past participle caught)
- (heading) To capture, overtake.
- (transitive) To capture or snare (someone or something which would rather escape). syn. [from 13thc.]
I hope I catch a fish. He ran but we caught him at the exit. The police caught the robber at a nearby casino.
- (transitive) To entrap or trip up a person; to deceive. [from 14thc.]
- (transitive, figuratively, dated) To marry or enter into a similar relationship with.
- 1933, Sinclair Lewis, Ann Vickers, p.108:
- The public […] said that Miss Bogardus was a suffragist because she had never caught a man; that she wanted something, but it wasn't the vote.
- 2006, Michael Collier and Georgia Machemer, Medea, p.23:
- As for Aspasia, concubinage with Pericles brought her as much honor as she could hope to claim in Athens. […] from the moment she caught her man, this influential, unconventional woman became a lightning rod […].
- (transitive) To reach (someone) with a strike, blow, weapon etc. [from 16thc.]
If he catches you on the chin, you'll be on the mat.
2011 September 28, Jon Smith, “Valencia 1-1 Chelsea”, in BBC Sport:
- The visitors started brightly and had an early chance when Valencia's experienced captain David Albeda gifted the ball to Fernando Torres, but the striker was caught by defender Adil Rami as he threatened to shoot.
- (transitive) To overtake or catch up to; to be in time for. [from 17thc.]
If you leave now you might catch him. I would love to have dinner but I have to catch a plane.
- (transitive) To discover unexpectedly; to surprise (someone doing something). [from 17thc.]
He was caught on video robbing the bank. He was caught in the act of stealing a biscuit.
- (transitive) To travel by means of. [from 19thc.]
catch the bus
- (transitive, rare) To become pregnant. (Only in past tense or as participle.) [from 19thc.]
- 2002, Orpha Caton, Shadow on the Creek, pp.102-103:
- Had Nancy got caught with a child? If so she would destroy her parent's dreams for her.
- (heading) To seize hold of.
- (transitive, dated) To grab, seize, take hold of. [from 13thc.]
I caught her by the arm and turned her to face me.
- (transitive) To take or replenish something necessary, such as breath or sleep. [from 14thc.]
I have to stop for a moment and catch my breath. I caught some Z's on the train.
- (transitive) To grip or entangle. [from 17thc.]
My leg was caught in a tree-root.
- (intransitive) To be held back or impeded.
Be careful your dress doesn't catch on that knob. His voice caught when he came to his father's name.
- 1879, Richard Jefferies, The Amateur Poacher, chapterII:
- Orion hit a rabbit once; but though sore wounded it got to the bury, and, struggling in, the arrow caught the side of the hole and was drawn out. Indeed, a nail filed sharp is not of much avail as an arrowhead; you must have it barbed, and that was a little beyond our skill.
- (intransitive) To engage with some mechanism; to stick, to succeed in interacting with something or initiating some process. transl.
Push it in until it catches. The engine finally caught and roared to life.
- (transitive) To have something be held back or impeded.
I caught my heel on the threshold.
- (intransitive) To make a grasping or snatching motion (at). [from 17thc.]
He caught at the railing as he fell.
- (transitive) Of fire, to spread or be conveyed to. [from 18thc.]
The fire spread slowly until it caught the eaves of the barn.
- (transitive, rowing) To grip (the water) with one's oars at the beginning of the stroke. [from 19thc.]
- (intransitive, agriculture) To germinate and set down roots. [from 19thc.]
The seeds caught and grew.
- (transitive, surfing) To contact a wave in such a way that one can ride it back to shore.
- 2001, John Lull, Sea Kayaking Safety & Rescue, p.203:
- If you are surfing a wave through the rocks, make sure you have a clear route before catching the wave.
- (transitive, computing) To handle an exception. transl. [from 20thc.]
When the program catches an exception, this is recorded in the log file.
- (heading) To intercept.
- (transitive) To seize or intercept a object moving through the air (or, sometimes, some other medium). syn. transl. [from 16thc.]
I will throw you the ball, and you catch it. Watch me catch this raisin in my mouth.
- (transitive, now rare) To seize (an opportunity) when it occurs. transl. [from 16thc.]
- (transitive, cricket) To end a player's innings by catching a hit ball before the first bounce. [from 18thc.]
Townsend hit 29 before he was caught by Wilson.
- (transitive, intransitive, baseball) To play (a specific period of time) as the catcher. [from 19thc.]
He caught the last three innings.
- (heading) To receive (by being in the way).
- (transitive) To be the victim of (something unpleasant, painful etc.). [from 13thc.]
You're going to catch a beating if they find out.
- (transitive) To be touched or affected by (something) through exposure. [from 13thc.]
The sunlight caught the leaves and the trees turned to gold. Her hair was caught by the light breeze.
- (transitive) To be infected by (an illness). [from 16thc.]
Everyone seems to be catching the flu this week.
- (intransitive) To spread by infection or similar means.
- Joseph Addison (1672–1719)
- Does the sedition catch from man to man?
- Mary Martha Sherwood (1775–1851)
- He accosted Mrs. Browne very civilly, told her his wife was very ill, and said he was sadly troubled to get a white woman to nurse her: "For," said he, "Mrs. Simpson has set it abroad that her fever is catching."
- (transitive, intransitive) To receive or be affected by (wind, water, fire etc.). [from 18thc.]
The bucket catches water from the downspout. The trees caught quickly in the dry wind.
- 2003, Jerry Dennis, The Living Great Lakes, p.63:
- the sails caught and filled, and the boat jumped to life beneath us.
- (transitive) To acquire, as though by infection; to take on through sympathy or infection. [from 16thc.]
She finally caught the mood of the occasion.
- (transitive) To be hit by something. syn.
He caught a bullet in the back of the head last year.
- (intransitive) To serve well or poorly for catching, especially for catching fish.
- (intransitive) To get pregnant.
Well, if you didn't catch this time, we'll have more fun trying again until you do.
- (heading) To take in with one's senses or intellect.
- (transitive) To grasp mentally: perceive and understand. transl. [from 16thc.]
Did you catch his name? Did you catch the way she looked at him?
- “A tight little craft,” was Austin’s invariable comment on the matron; […]. ¶ Near her wandered her husband, orientally bland, invariably affable, and from time to time squinting sideways, as usual, in the ever-renewed expectation that he might catch a glimpse of his stiff, retroussé moustache.
- (transitive) To take in; to watch or listen to (an entertainment). [from 20thc.]
I have some free time tonight so I think I'll catch a movie.
- (transitive) To reproduce or echo a spirit or idea faithfully. [from 17thc.]
You've really caught his determination in this sketch.
- (heading) To seize attention, interest.
- (transitive) To charm or entrance. [from 14thc.]
- 2004, Catherine Asaro, The Moon's Shadow, p.40:
- No, a far more natural beauty caught him.
- (transitive) To attract and hold (a faculty or organ of sense). [from 17thc.]
He managed to catch her attention. The enormous scarf did catch my eye.
- (heading) To obtain or experience
- The older past and passive participle catched is now nonstandard.
Terms derived from the verb "to catch"
to capture or snare
- Assamese: আয়ত্ত কৰা (ayotto kora)
- Belarusian: лаві́ць impf (lavícʹ), злаві́ць pf (zlavícʹ), залаві́ць pf (zalavícʹ)
- Burmese: ဖမ်း (my) (hpam:)
- Cantonese: 捉 (zuk1)
- Mandarin: 捉 (zh) (zhuō); 捕獲 (zh), 捕获 (zh) (bǔhuò), 捕 (zh) (bǔ)
- Min Nan: 掠 (lia̍h)
- Finnish: napata (fi), saada kiinni
- French: attraper (fr), prendre (fr)
- Friulian: cjapâ
- Gallurese: aggantà
- Georgian: დაჭერა (dač̣era)
- German: fangen (de)
- Haitian Creole: atrap
- Ido: kaptar (io)
- Interlingue: capter
- Irish: ceap, beir ar
- Italian: agguantare (it), acchiappare (it), afferrare (it), chiappare
- Japanese: 捕らえる (とらえる, toraeru), 捕まえる (つかまえる, tsukamaeru)
- Latgalian: giut, giusteit, čupt, tvert
- Latvian: ķert, tvert
- Lombard: ciapà
- Maore Comorian: upara
- Maori: hāhā (referring to the breath)
to intercept an object in the air etc. def.
- Arabic: أَمْسَكَ (ʾamsaka), مَسَكَ (masaka)
- Armenian: բռնել (hy) (bṙnel)
- Assamese: ধৰা (dhora)
- Basque: harrapatu
- Belarusian: лаві́ць impf (lavícʹ), злаві́ць pf (zlavícʹ), залаві́ць pf (zalavícʹ)
- Bulgarian: хващам (bg) (hvaštam), улавям (bg) (ulavjam)
- Burmese: ဖမ်း (my) (hpam:)
- Cebuano: dakup
- Cantonese: 接 (zip3)
- Mandarin: 捕 (zh) (bǔ), 抓住 (zh) (zhuāzhù), 抓 (zh) (zhuā)
- Czech: chytit (cs), chytnout
- Danish: fange (da)
- Dutch: vangen (nl)
- Finnish: pyydystää (fi), ottaa kiinni (fi), napata (fi), siepata (fi)
- French: attraper (fr)
- Georgian: დაჭერა (dač̣era)
- German: fangen (de)
- Hebrew: תָּפַס (he) (tafás)
- Hindi: पकड़ना (hi) (pakaṛnā)
to contract a disease or illness
- Mandarin: please add this translation if you can
- Dutch: please add this translation if you can
- Esperanto: please add this translation if you can
- Finnish: saada (fi)
- French: please add this translation if you can
to perceive and understand def.
- Marathi: समझणे (samazhaṇe)
- Bokmål: forstå (no), få med seg, oppfatte (no), begripe (no)
- Polish: dostrzegać (pl) impf, dostrzec (pl) pf, ogarniać (pl) impf (slang), ogarnąć (pl) pf (slang)
- Portuguese: entender (pt), compreender (pt), captar (pt), sacar (pt) (slang)
- Russian: схва́тывать (ru) impf (sxvátyvatʹ), схвати́ть (ru) pf (sxvatítʹ), понима́ть (ru) impf (ponimátʹ), поня́ть (ru) pf (ponjátʹ), расслы́шать (ru) pf (rasslýšatʹ)
- Slovene: ujeti
- Spanish: (Chile, informal) cachar (es), captar (es), comprender (es)
- Swedish: fatta (sv) (colloquial), uppfatta (sv)
to seize an opportunity def.
to reach in time to leave def.
to engage, stick, or grasp def.
to handle a computer error, especially an exception def.
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.
Translations to be checked: "could be any sense"