cataract

noun
cat·​a·​ract | \ ˈka-tə-ˌrakt How to pronounce cataract (audio) \

Definition of cataract

1 [ Middle English, from Middle French or Medieval Latin; Middle 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
2a 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

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Other Words from cataract

cataractous \ ˌka-​tə-​ˈrak-​təs How to pronounce cataractous (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for cataract

Synonyms

cascade, fall(s), waterfall

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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.

Examples of cataract in a Sentence

the roaring cataract is one of the park's most majestic sights in spring the melting snows usually produce a cataract that inundates the valley

Recent Examples on the Web

For example, cataracts gradually develop as people get older. Beth Wood, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Protect your eyes for life with healthy diet, sun shielding," 24 June 2019 Research shows that cataracts increase the risk of falls. Amir Khan, sun-sentinel.com, "Surgery to treat cataract can wait if vision hasn’t been affected yet," 6 June 2019 Though many trees have regrown, scientists have found evidence of elevated levels of cataracts and albinism, and lower rates of beneficial bacteria, among some wildlife species in the area in recent years. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "The Chernobyl disaster: What happened, and the long-term impacts," 17 May 2019 If left untreated, babies may develop cataracts, deafness, seizures or death. Alexandria Hein, Fox News, "Syphilis cases up 44 percent in California county," 18 Sep. 2018 These exams include a number of procedures to assess both your eyesight and ocular health, including pupil dilation to see the optic nerve and retina and a thorough look at the front of your eye to look for things like cataracts or cornea scratches. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Exactly How Often You Really Need to See Different Kinds of Doctors," 17 Jan. 2019 Protect against vision loss: Just one cup of kale has more than your whole day's worth of the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, which help shield ocular tissues from harmful UV damage and may reduce your risk of cataracts. Jaclyn London, Ms, Rd, Cdn, Good Housekeeping, "Kale Is Actually One of the Healthiest Things You Can Eat," 17 Dec. 2018 Shannon says the vision loss in her right eye is the result of childhood cataracts that were never properly treated, and her left was damaged by retinal detachment, a disorder of the eye in which the retina separates from the layer underneath. Emily Strohm, PEOPLE.com, "Mama June Says She Gained 25 Lbs. Because She Is Going Blind and Can't Exercise," 13 June 2018 Her older sister, Lyna Yip, who arrived in the United States with two of her uncles ahead of her parents, sister and brother, also had surgery to remove cataracts but emerged with better vision. Richard Sandomir, New York Times, "Julie Yip-Williams, Writer of Candid Blog on Cancer, Dies at 42," 22 Mar. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of cataract

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cataract

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

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Statistics for cataract

Last Updated

5 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for cataract

The first known use of cataract was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for cataract

cataract

noun

English Language Learners Definition of cataract

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

cataract

noun
cat·​a·​ract | \ ˈka-tə-ˌrakt How to pronounce cataract (audio) \

Kids Definition of cataract

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

cataract

noun
cat·​a·​ract | \ ˈkat-ə-ˌrakt How to pronounce cataract (audio) \

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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Comments on cataract

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