cataract

noun cat·a·ract \ ˈka-tə-ˌrakt \

Definition of cataract

1
[Middle English, from Medieval French or Medieval Latin; Medieval French catharacte, from Medieval Latin cataracta, from Latin, portcullis]
:a clouding of the lens of the eye or of its surrounding transparent membrane that obstructs the passage of light
2 a obsolete :waterspout
b :waterfall; especially :a large one over a precipice
c :steep rapids in a river
  • the cataracts of the Nile
d :downpour, flood
  • cataracts of rain
  • cataracts of information

cataractous

play \ˌka-tə-ˈrak-təs\ adjective

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Examples of cataract in a Sentence

  1. the roaring cataract is one of the park's most majestic sights

  2. in spring the melting snows usually produce a cataract that inundates the valley

Recent Examples of cataract from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cataract.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

The meaning of "cataract" we're most familiar with is also the oldest. It dates to the 14th century and comes from the Latin word cataracta, meaning "portcullis," probably because the ocular cataract obstructs vision in a way reminiscent of the way the portcullis's heavy iron grating obstructs passage into a fortress or castle. Latin cataracta has another meaning, however-"waterfall"-and that meaning gave us the water-related meanings that came in later centuries. The connection between the two Latin meanings can be seen in katarassein, the Greek source of cataracta. It means "to dash down"-an action we see in both the slamming portcullis and the cascading waterfall.

Origin and Etymology of cataract

Latin cataracta waterfall, portcullis, from Greek kataraktēs, from katarassein to dash down, from kata- + arassein to strike, dash

cataract Synonyms

Synonyms
cascade, waterfall, fall (s)
Antonyms
drought (also drouth)
Related Words
flume; chute (also shute), rapid (s), shoot, white water
Near Antonyms
dribble, drip, trickle

CATARACT Defined for English Language Learners

cataract

noun

Definition of cataract for English Language Learners

  • medical : a condition in which a part of your eye (called the lens) becomes cloudy and you cannot see well

  • : a large waterfall


CATARACT Defined for Kids

cataract

noun cat·a·ract \ ˈka-tə-ˌrakt \

Definition of cataract for Students

1 :a clouding of the lens of the eye or of the cover around the lens that blocks the passage of light
2 :a large waterfall
3 :a sudden rush or flow like a waterfall

Medical Dictionary

cataract

noun cat·a·ract \ ˈkat-ə-ˌrakt \

medical Definition of cataract

:a clouding of the lens of the eye or its surrounding transparent membrane that obstructs the passage of light


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